“When Wall Street Came to My Mobile Home Park” cites research, provides commentary and a video presented by individuals tied to left-leaning platforms, and is reproduced below with permission. MHAction, the Institute for Policy Studies, and several other leftist advocacy nonprofits are funded in part via dark money channels. Dark money channels have been defined by Open Secrets, which is connected t billionaire leftist George Soros. Dark money channels have been previous identified by the Center for Capital Research (CRC), Influence Watch, MHProNews, MHLivingNews, based upon evidence linked in various reports. Given opportunities to debunk previous such claims, MHAction’s Executive Director Kevin Border declined comment. Those sources included the Tides nonprofit, which in turn has been funded via so-called dark money channels that have been documented by Influence Watch and others to link to leftist supporting billionaires Warren Buffett and George Soros. Additionally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website reflects financial support for the Tides Center. The Tides, as well as the Gates Foundation, have long ties to leftist causes that include MHAction, among others that have at various times been linked to research that has proven embarrassing to various corporate members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). Bill Gates and Buffett have long been Gates Foundation trustees, until Buffett stepped down earlier this year. But it seems apparent that funding via dollars tied to Buffett bucks to the Gates Foundation continues. So does Gates Foundation funding to the Tides Center, which the Tides in turn funds MHAction.
Investopedia says: “Anonymous political donors contribute dark money through social welfare nonprofits.” According to NonProfitChronicles.com: “Wealthy donors can and do hide charitable giving for which they claim tax deductions, the investments they hold in tax-advantaged accounts and information about what they pay their professional staff, which is also tax-deductible.” So, while Dark Money is often associated, and correctly so, with politics, it is also associated with so-called philanthropy. That philanthropy is often in turn used for advocacy. In the case of manufactured housing, there is a case to be made that the advocacy creates barriers for entry, persistence, and exit. NonProfitChronicles.com also said: “Rules, they say, are made to be broken. This is not necessary when it comes to the rules designed to promote transparency in foundations. They’re so ineffectual that there’s no need to break them.”
Various described and documented via various sources nonprofits and their billionaire donors set the backdrop for the misleadingly named “When Wall Street Came to My Mobile Home Park,” which as noted is presented by various left-leaning platforms. The terminology errors (i.e. mobile home and mobile home park) are in the original.
When Wall Street Came to My Mobile Home Park
Mobile homes provide affordable housing for millions. But for private equity firms, they’re just another asset to squeeze for profit.
RESEARCH & COMMENTARY
OCTOBER 13, 2021
by Francine Townsend
For the last 20 years, I have lived and thrived in a mobile home community. I loved where I live — right up until Wall Street bought the park and threatened the well-being of myself, my neighbors, and my family.
Mobile homes are a vital source of affordable housing for around 3 million households across 45,000 communities in the United States. These households have a median income of about $36,000 and include vulnerable populations like seniors, the disabled, and immigrants.
Our mobile home community was the sort of place where every neighbor helped everybody. If my grass wasn’t cut, the neighbor across the street would cut it. If their grass didn’t get cut that week, I would take care of it. That’s just how we were.
But things started to get harder in 2012, when RHP Properties — a corporation entwined with Brookfield Asset Management, a Toronto-based private equity firm — took ownership of our mobile home community in Spring Valley, New York.
Mobile home communities exist in part to give disadvantaged, lower income, or retired people like me the opportunity to have their own space. It’s your own yard, with your own driveway.
But RHP properties saw only a profit opportunity. Soon after they took over, the money we were required to pay to have our home in the community, called the land fee or lot rent, started going up.
Way up. My land fee alone reached nearly $1,400. But that wasn’t all.
RHP also started charging for services that were once included in the rent, like water. Meanwhile the services we pay for got skimpier and skimpier. Potholes started developing in driveways and on roads, trees were collapsing across people’s yards, and garbage began to pile up. Maintenance requests now go unanswered for months.
The situation has been developing for some time. According to a report by Americans for Financial Reform and MH Action, an organization I work with, Wall Street’s involvement in mobile home parks is a national phenomenon.
Corporate and private equity acquisitions of mobile home communities have left residents across the United States helpless. In some cases, they have jacked up prices by up to 60 percent, layering on school taxes, trash fees, and administrative charges on top of the rent — all new costs that weren’t charged before.
Many also kicked out residents during the pandemic, despite federal rules against evictions.
We need change and we needed it yesterday.
At the state level, we can protect mobile home residents with laws to guard against excessive rent increases, and lay the legal groundwork for community-friendly ownership models that help residents preserve the family-like atmosphere that made my house a home.
At the national level, we need Congress to begin a fundamental restructuring of the predatory private equity industry by passing the Stop Wall Street Looting Act. The law would make private equity executives personally liable if they cause damage and close tax and regulatory loopholes that benefit wealthy executives.
These reforms would benefit far more than just mobile home residents. Across the country, private equity firms are price gouging people for many forms of housing, as well as shortening life expectancy in nursing homes, destroying retail jobs, and devastating local newspapers with ruthless cost-cutting,
The private equity industry, in short, is responsible for some of the most harmful business practices in the United States.
My neighbors and I love where we live, and we refuse to back down and abandon our homes. It’s time for our elected officials to act.
This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.
Francine Townsend is a longtime resident of a New York mobile home community. She’s a member-leader with MHAction who organizes her neighbors to protect affordability and advance racial and gender justice in housing. ##
Notice: republishing and posting the above should not be considered as an endorsement of the group(s) involved nor of the legislation that they propose. The far better fix to the problems they describe are to enforce existing laws on antitrust, RICO, fraud, the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, the Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing mandated by HERA 2008, and other remedies previously described by MHProNews/MHLivingNews and are summarized in the 500-word letter linked here.
Additional Information, more MHProNews Facts & Analysis
Some 1700 websites had picked this MHAction member/activist penned op-ed up since it was first published on OtherWords on October 13, 2021. Per Google’s ‘news’ function, over 900 sites that left-leaning organization has designated as news have picked it up.
Warren Buffett, and other billionaires leftists too, are readers. That noted, this from QuoteFancy is worth pondering as to how it relates to manufactured housing specifically, but also to the broader American landscape. “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” — Vladimir Lenin. The so-called opposition to manufactured housing is often sees financial support.
Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) is not shown as an MHI member in 2018, but RHP Properties is. MHAction has identified Brookfield’s ties to RHP. Other companies named or shown by left-leaning HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver viral, satirical hit misnamed “Mobile Homes” has been identified as having ties to MHI and/or MHI state affiliates. That’s ‘one side’ of the nonprofits that operate in manufactured housing.
The “opposition” is MHAction and other nonprofits that Oliver’s video referenced in 2019. Buffett/Berkshire bucks are literally on both sides of that contest. It may seem odd at first to those who have not carefully followed how this dynamic has been playing out in manufactured housing. At first blush, it seems that MHAction et al (“the opposition”) are spotlighting “predatory” behavior in manufactured housing, and they are. While sometimes exaggerated, they are generally correct in their factual claims. That said, when their ‘solutions’ and advocacy are examined, they often fail to achieve their stated purpose of benefiting the residents of such manufactured home land-lease communities.
For example, directly provided with the research results that ties MHAction to Buffett bucks and asked if they come with strings attached, former HUD and current MHAction attorney Liz Voigt declined comment. To see Voigt’s experience and political ties, and how that plays into the ‘revolving door’ and Iron Triangle, see the report linked above. That noted, it is common for donations to have reporting and other requirements when they flow from a billionaire, or a billionaire’s nonprofit interests.
Because new regulations are often spawned by “predatory” behavior, there are pressures that result from that which cause numbers to leave a particular field. In this case, the looming threat of higher taxes combined with other pressures are causing, per Sun Communities, record numbers of manufactured home community operators to leave the profession.
- This fits the fact-pattern described by third-parties such as Carol Roth.
- It also happens to fit that fact patterns described by James A. “Jim Schmitz Jr. and his colleagues from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve and beyond.
- These facts also fit what has been noted by Samuel “Sam” Strommen at Knudson Law. These in turn have been supported by the SEC suit pleadings against MHI member Cavco and Cavco/MHI’s former chairman, Joseph “Joe” Stegmayer.
- Last but not least for now is how negative publicity has apparently been profitable ‘advertising’ for Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, Clayton Homes, and others in the MHI orbit.
In his video with pro-Berkshire Hathaway interviewer Robert Miles, Kevin Clayton mentioned philanthropy and nonprofits.
Warren Buffett’s own son Peter Buffett, who with his wife lead the NoVo Foundation nonprofit funded by Buffett, has labeled such charities as being engaged in what was referred to as “philanthro-feudalism.” Per Peter, these organizations seem to be doing good, but when examined, are locking problems they claim to be working to solve in place.
That same pattern was identified in the award-winning documentary, Poverty Inc. One of those interviewed said that ‘if you want to help the poor, the poverty industry must go.’
There are other examples of this pattern at work in manufactured housing, but also in other parts of American society too. Once you see it and grasp the concepts, this pattern becomes easier to spot. Simple fact-checks and “follow the money” checks help connect the dots of what are arguably parts of the Warren Buffett moat methodology for fostering a slow-but steady monopolization of a targeted sector.
The series of links and quotes illustrate, document, and connect the dots between those statements and observations above.
Summary and Conclusion
Aspects of manufactured housing was arguably weaponized and hobbled from forces outside and in. While the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) may not have used such terms as “the moat,” “the Iron Triangle,” or “sabotaging monopolies” in their writing, they have in various respects described those forces using other terms. That noted, for well over a decade, MHARR has advocated that manufactured housing professionals form their own post-production nonprofit to supplant what MHI claims to do on behalf of independents.
MHProNews has reported on various efforts over the years to create just such an MHI-alternative that could team with MHARR to advance the interests of white-hat independents.
Where it not for the various credible evidence, and the lack of denial by MHI et al, this might seem more like a plot-line from a work of fiction. Or it might appear to be a mere ‘conspiracy theory.’ Indeed, the later has been part of the quiet push-back that MHI surrogates have at times deployed. That noted, MHI surrogates have apparently learned from the MHI member Andy Gedo debate experience that they can not successfully defend the behavior and fact-pattern MHProNews and MHLivingNews have identified, and which others have before, during, and since noted too.
To what extent this may become an issue with various elected and appointed public officials and others remains to be seen. But the fact that Schmitz et al and Strommen have drawn attention to what MHProNews, MHLivingNews, MHARR and others have cited are reasons to think that this will sooner or later erupt as an issue.
“A More Costly “Re-Boot” of “Fatally-Flawed” “Fundamentally-Tainted, Sham DOE “Negotiated Rulemaking Process” – Smoking Gun Documents, MHARR, MHI, Manufactured Housing, You; plus MHMarkets Facts+Analysis
The good news is that the cure in most cases is fairly simple in principle. Existing laws must be robustly enforced. Until those laws are enforced, expect more of the same. To learn more see the quotes and linked reports herein and that follow.
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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
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.