Businesses, organizations, and professions are based upon solving some need(s). Keep that simple truth in mind.
In the case of our industry, that need is for affordable housing, and/or for ‘fast homes.’ Manufactured homes are not instant, but compared to many other operations, HUD Code homes are quicker.
This morning we will tease two upcoming reports, but our focus today is on an immediate headwinds and threats to manufactured home independents. That looming dagger is most notably in the land lease manufactured home community sector, but by extension, into other arenas too.
Upcoming 1: There are numerous opportunities that manufactured housing can and should serve. One very specific one will be featured in a report that should be ready next week. Demographic changes are creating opportunities that the big boys will know, but operations of small to medium size need to better understand in order to profit from.
Upcoming 2: perhaps as soon as tomorrow, we will publish a turning ‘lemons into lemonade’ report, that takes nettlesome issues that create headwinds for the industry and reveals how they can become opportunities in disguise.
Immediate – even this morning’s ‘headwinds’ report – which outlines risks current and coming, could be turned into opportunities in disguise for savvy professionals. So read with care, don’t skim.
With those upcoming features noted, let’s dive into today’s Manufactured Housing Intelligence Report for Independents.
Behind the Curtain of John Oliver’s Mobile Homes Viral Video? MHAction, and Their Agenda
First, the facts. Much of the John Oliver satirical viral hit on manufactured housing ne’er do wells was sourced from MHAction related materials. This is easy to identify because Oliver shows the ‘white paper’ that includes MHAction in his report.
That is the same white paper that MHProNews spotlighted for industry independents a few weeks ago. The Washington Post, followed by other news media outlets, reported on that same MHAction co-branded ‘research.’ Note that then and now, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) response was the same. Per sources, they shared a few things with various state executives and others, explained why they really could not effectively respond, and it was just best to let the matter blow over.
Question. What do they get paid millions of dollars a year to do? Is MHI paid to give excuses? As one source with knowledge told MHProNews, they are committing “association malpractice.” That same source also said MHI has about $4 million in their reserves fund, and that they could mount an effective reply if they wanted to do so.
So why don’t they?
The apparent response from those smiling faces in Arlington, VA where MHI is headquartered is that they obviously don’t want to reply to attacks on the industry, even in this case, when several of those attacked are their own members. That begs the question, why not defend even your own?
As a non-industry attorney investigating manufactured housing issues that called MHProNews this week noted, who benefits from the MHI inaction? Who is harmed by their inaction?
Moving back to the MHAction co-branded ‘white paper.’
Let’s recall where MHAction gets their funding. No conjecture is needed, because here are some eye-opening facts. Keep in mind what investigative reporter Sharyl Attiksson says, “follow the money.” ICYMI, you can click on the linked report later for more details and insights.
A) From the bottom of their home page, we see this. The image is a collage, but from their website with MHProNews comments.
B) As a reminder, a resident group informed MHLivingNews last year about MHAction’s ties with the Tides Foundation. The Advocacy Fund gets money from the Tides Foundation.
C) Who are the top donors to the Tides?
D) Who gave the money to the top donor, the Novo Foundation? Warren Buffett.
Summing Up Before Moving Onto What’s Coming Next
We are left with the inescapable fact that Buffett’s largess helped pay for that MHAction co-branded ‘white paper’ attack on private equity firms investing in manufactured home communities.
We see that MHI, and several state executives affiliated with them, are saying let’s let this blow over. Buffett’s Berkshire brands in MHVille dominate MHI, as the do numbers of state associations too.
That MHAction co-branded ‘white paper’ targets giant firms, and a common thread is that the ones noted by Oliver’s video were MHI members.
Just as big banks can handle regulatory hurdles better than smaller ones, so too big companies can afford to take media hits easier than smaller firms. So while it may seem counterintuitive to fund those that attack your own interests, that what is occurring. The purported logic is they can take it better than you as as a smaller business can.
To the general public watching that John Oliver video, yes, it may make Warren Buffett, Clayton Homes, Frank Rolfe, or others look bad. But that casual observer sees the entire industry looking bad. Here are some actual comments posted on the John Oliver video
- “You had me convinced things are wrong when you stated how many people live in mobile homes” – Chris McElroy.
- “John Oliver can take any topic I’ve never cared about and make them extremely interesting.” – Perfect Dawnn.
- “I’m laughing on the outside but crying inside,,, of my mobile home.” – dustymcdirt.
- “Wow, a connection between Warren Buffet and Duck Dynasty.” – TlalocW.
- “Wow I never knew all this before. We never hear these on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX etc.” – Maximus Augustus.
- “Socialism for the rich Capitalism for the poor” – LAVIN20.
- “You gotta admire the dedication this show’s crew has to actually enroll in these shady seminars just to find out how awful the people behind these things really are.” – Floating Sunfish.
MHI, and the states, are doing little more than hand wringing. Hey! Daddy Buffet Bucks helped pay for this assault?!
Are you an MH Independent? If so, do you see the various ways that the powers that be can hit you with unexpected headwinds? But there is more. Like a grand master in chess, your opponents are thinking several moves ahead.
Here is what they’ve already signaled, per sources to MHProNews, on what they are working on next. The John Oliver viral video on “Mobile Homes,” or the Washington Post and related reports that MHAction – thanks to funding from Uncle Warren – are arguably preparing. You may look back and think of this as the calm before the coming storm.
What’s Looming Next?
Start with two words. Rent Control.
The next ‘white paper’ the folks at MHAction are pushing is one calling for broader rent control. It is a threat to MH Communities that are independently owned. But don’t think that the impact stops there, because our industry is interconnected, so others in MHVille will feel the impact too. You can access their sadly flawed 2-page summary of their thinking on that issue from the image below, or this link here. MHAction and their allies are calling for nationwide rent control.
We’ve debunked its value before, but the most recent report on that is linked below. We’ll plan a follow up on the MHAction backed item in the days ahead. ICYMI – our prior Daily Business News on MHProNews exclusive report, see that at the link below.
If you are an association member in a post-production or umbrella trade group, ask your leaders, or yourself, what are they doing to head this off? That’s what a good trade association does to earn their keep.
Washington Politicos, Advocates Are Watching John Oliver’s Video
Sources are telling MHProNews that the John Oliver “Mobile Homes” viral video has been raising concerns in Washington, D.C. While that doesn’t always result in legislative action, it could. Do you hear that from MHI? What happened to Nathan Smith’s pledge to make MHI more proactive?
The industry’s independents are left with several vexing problems. Among them is the question of feeding the hand(s) that bite them, by paying an association(s) that may be working against your interests. Or doing business with brands that may be working against your long-term interests as an independent. Or that some associations stand mute when challenges like these artificially generated headwinds arise.
No easy way out?
If you’ve been paying an organization to protect-educate-promote your firm, perhaps saving those dues or fees would be a useful first step?
Or as a notable association member suggested, there may need to be a battle within those trade groups to wrestle control away from the powers that be which are arguably leading the industry into one ambush after another.
We began this column with a simple truth. Businesses, organizations, and professions are based upon solving some need(s). What need does MHI solve?
If their purpose is to help consolidate the industry into ever fewer “big boy” hands, they are succeeding at that mission.
But in that case, MHI would arguably be falsely claiming to represent “all segments of factory-built housing,” when in fact they seem to be serving only a favored few.
Our industry has powerful and timely truths, but they are being obscured by messages like Oliver’s and MHAction’s. The good news about manufactured homes, communities, or the industry at large are not being successfully defended or promoted by MHI. The shipment data proves that all too well.
The facts and quotes that follow demonstrate a snapshot of why this current downturn is avoidable.
That’s Saturday’s edition of “Delivering to Manufactured Home Independents & Investors Useful Intelligence for Your Professional Life.” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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HBO’s John Oliver on Last Week Tonight Mobile Homes Video, Manufactured Home Communities Fact Check – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
” Mobile homes were perfected by humans, but invented by snails,” John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, per Time. ” The homes of some the poorest people in America are being snapped up by some of the richest people in America.” Really?
Why is Seattle Dying? Affordable Housing, Misplaced Compassion, and Manufactured Homes – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
In just over three weeks, this video below entitled ” Seattle is Dying ” by KOMO, a local ABC TV affiliate there, has broken 2.1 million views. It is an hour-long and compelling documentary that ends with hope based upon some promising solutions. But it first lays out one troubling fact and example after another.