“’We’re all afraid’” said a headline on the left-leaning Washington Post on 06.06.2022. “Massive rent increases hit mobile homes.” The Post said “low supply” and “heightened demand” generated “Surging home prices and [site] rents are cascading down to the country’s mobile home parks…” Terminology errors in the Post and New York Times are in the original. “Investors Are buying Mobile Home Parks” [SIC] said a headline on the left-leaning New York Times on 3.27.2022. “Across the country, corporate landlords are expanding manufactured housing portfolios and driving up rents, pushing longtime residents out.” That’s not all that two of the biggest print and digital newspaper brands in America has had to say about ‘problems’ in manufactured housing. The Post said on 1.21.2022 that “After decades, Biden plans to make mobile homes greener…” arguably misleadingly adding that “For the first time since 1994, the government must update energy-efficiency standards for manufactured houses.” These media giants are hardly alone. Some of those same seemingly troubling topics are found in other publications across the left-right divide. What’s the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) nexus or link to these mainstream media driven issues? Several. In no particular order of importance, one could begin with the point made by MHI cheerleader Darren Krolewski. Insightfully, Krolewski previously told MHProNews that the good news about manufactured housing – such as the Freddie Mac research or the recent Innovative Housing Showcase in Washington, D.C. that MHI participated in – is being drowned out in a wave of bad news.
Fresh Look at Longstanding Patterns
MHProNews has conducted various interviews and Q&A sessions with Danny Ghorbani, a former MHI Vice President and the founding president and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform on 7.3.1985. During those sessions, among the remarks made by Ghorbani is that MHARR had to take a long-term approach with engagement on issues that MHI was also involved in. For instance, for years, Ghorbani said that MHI resisted the idea of updating the original 1974 manufactured housing act. It wasn’t until a change in leadership occurred that ushered in Walter “Walt” Young, the chairman, president and CEO of Champion Enterprises into the role of MHI chairman that a paradigm shift occurred. Champion’s Young encouraged Chris Stinebert, who became MHI’s president and CEO, to work with Ghorbani and MHARR along with state associations to make the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA or 2000 Reform law) a reality. Put differently, over a decade of MHARR efforts eventually ‘won over’ MHI leaders who shifted into a joint effort that at least on paper had the potential to ‘raised all boats.’
Roe and Manufactured Housing Lesson?
Agree or not with the Supreme Court ruling on the Dobbs case that sent the Roe v. Wade abortion decision back to the states, what the pro-life movements dedication reflected is that never-quit persistence paid off. It took almost 50 years of patient, prayerful and persistent effort to make last month’s ruling a reality. The reverse is also true, because Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger were among those on the left pushing for access to abortion that ultimately resulted in the Roe v Wade case ruling in 1973. Those experience holds a lesson for manufactured home independents.
The lesson? Patience and persistence can pay off. As Ghorbani likes to stress, facts, evidence, and the willingness to fight for one’s beliefs paid off for MHARR with the MHIA 2000. What is certain is a lack of effort guarantees defeat. As Naomi Wolf, Ph.D. said recently, ‘hopelessness leads to inaction and without action we are guaranteed to lose everything.’ Fear or inaction are each a risk for white had manufactured housing brands.
While trade group leaders are supposed to be able to work with ‘both sides’ of the two major party aisles in Washington, D.C., that doesn’t mean that trade association leaders are supposed to roll over and play dead, go along to get along, or otherwise fail to call out apparent problems when they become apparent. The Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) provided an example of this a year ago when their executive director Tom Hardiman pointedly called out the Biden regime for what they called ‘political payoffs.’
MHARR’s President and CEO Mark Weiss, J.D., has similarly been ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ based on the facts and circumstances. Weiss recently ripped ‘the elites’ for posturing concern for the common woman or man while demonstrating time and again by policies that they don’t mean what they say.
How do MHARR leaders accomplish victories when they are far smaller than MHI in staff, resources, etc.? How has MHARR managed to achieve positive outcomes despite the odds?
Just ask them. They frankly assert that they do so by focusing on facts, evidence, the particular law under discussion, and then they make the best argument possible. What MHARR does not do is begin, as MHI often seems to do, with concessions.
Additional Information, More MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
MHProNews and MHLivingNews has studied these issues, patterns, and behaviors for years. As longtime MHProNews readers know, this publication joined MHI within a year of launching. MHI is rather effective at posturing, but what only becomes obvious over the course of time is that MHI’s words are not matched by their deeds. Who says so? Longtime MHI award-winner Martin “Marty” Lavin, J.D. The clever Lavin says much without getting so specific as to cost himself consulting gigs with MHI or other firms.
This publication’s writer – by simply asking obvious questions during MHI meetings – apparently became too much for MHI leaders to handle. Pointing out the disconnects between MHI leader behavior and MHI claims was reason enough to send a refund check for one year (not the other) membership dues and an unsigned letter giving a rather silly explanation for the ‘termination.’ That reason? They didn’t have a membership category for ‘news’ ignoring the fact that we also do consulting, or that they have other members that also do ‘news.’ When these others are carefully examined, what comes into focus is that the others are routinely cheerleading for MHI, perhaps occasionally presenting a different view than theirs. But by and large these other bloggers and publishers ignore MHARR, after years of praising MHProNews now pretend we don’t exist and keep repeating the same talking points over and over again. The fact that those talking points often do not stand up to scrutiny does not seem to bother MHI leaders.
Those Vexing Facts – Plus Clock Ticking to Serious Manufactured Housing Downturn…
Due to the implementation timeline necessary to comply with the DOE energy rule, insiders say at the latest something must be accomplished by MHI before the end of December 2022. Some say it needs to be even sooner, because design, production, and labor-changes will have to be in place well before the DOE Rule goes into effect. The Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA), a loyal MHI affiliate, has noted that a downturn may already be underway. With the implementation of this DOE rule that anticipated slowdown will be more significant because the most affordable manufactured homes will no longer be available for ‘entry level’ consumers with marginal incomes. They will be ‘priced out,’ to apply the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) term.
MHI leaders often seem to say things quite similar to what MHARR leaders do. But when carefully examined, there are stark or even shocking differences.
What Must Be Done?
MHI has the money and legal muscle to fight the DOE energy rule, or for that matter, to sue to make the Duty to Serve manufactured home lending or MHIA’s “enhanced preemption” a reality instead of just happy talk without substantive action. Current MHI members should raise these issues in meetings and emails. There should be no fear to press serious issues because when done correctly, MHProNews and MHLivingNews are living examples that open and public pushback can occur.
Another path could be to rapidly organize and establish an authentic – vs. ersatz – trade group to represent the post-production side of the industry. Will MHI pivot in time, as some hope? There is NO evidence at this time that they will do so. That’s not a ‘fun fact’ to report, but reality is what it is.
The industry’s independents should rouse themselves to recognize that MHI has talked and promised for over 20 years on the MHIA 2000. When MHARR offered in 2019 to team up with a state association (routinely MHI affiliates) on a promising case, but they said there was no takers. Why not?
Another path could be to rapidly organize and establish an authentic – vs. ersatz – trade group to represent the post-production side of the industry. Stay tuned to follow ups that reveal what MHI and disgruntled MHI members are doing. ##
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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