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Posts Tagged ‘Chattanooga Times Free Press’

$1.2 Billion Settlement Proves FEDs Are Serious; Communities, Industry Head$ Up

June 14th, 2018 Comments off

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For those who wonder if the Trump Administration is serious about enforcing laws, a $1.2 billion dollar settlement should put that question to rest.

 

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson…announced a historic agreement with the nation’s largest public housing authority to correct dangerous lead-based paint and other health and safety hazards,” HUD said in a release to the Daily Business News.  

HUD, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a Consent Decree with New York City and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to resolve widespread issues of lead, mold, pest infestations and other inadequate housing conditions.  Read the Federal Complaint and the Consent Decree filed today in federal District Court for the Southern District of New York.”

Note that some of these listed items are similar to concerns raised by the Chattanooga Times Free Press with respect to allegations about Tom Lackey, still shown today as a SECO board member.

Spencer Roane w/Southeast Community Owners (SECO), Praises Tom Lackey, Accused of Rent-to-Own Manufactured Home Sales Improprieties

See those related links, above and below.

Informed sources are telling MHProNews that state and local officials are investigating the complaints surrounding the issues reported above and below.

Officials are not able to comment on the specifics.

George Allen Reply to Mainstream Media re: Roane/Lackey/SECO Exposé, Plus MHI, MHARR, et al – “Make Manufactured Housing Great Again”

The HUD statement is focused on resident health issues. Isn’t that a flare for those who engage in questionable behavior by selling pre-owned homes to consumers with similar, known, problematic issues?

More from HUD, Secretary Carson

The following is an extended quote from HUD to the Daily Business News regarding the consent decrees.

 —- Continuation of HUD statement to MHProNews, start of extended quote. —-

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“More than 400,000 residents live in NYCHA properties, exceeding the number of residents living in the next ten largest public housing authorities combined.  In addition to the agreement announced today, New York State placed NYCHA under a state of emergency order in April and is committing up to $550 million to assist the public housing authority in resolving health and safety issues.

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Dr. Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, official photo.

This historic agreement marks a new era for New York City’s public housing, one that puts families and their children first,” said HUD Secretary Carson.  “New York City and New York State are making an unprecedented commitment to put NYCHA on a new path.  The cooperation of Federal, State and city officials will vastly improve the living conditions for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.”

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “NYCHA’s failure to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing is simply unacceptable, and illegal. Children must be protected from toxic lead paint, apartments must be free of mold and pest infestations, and developments must provide adequate heat in winter and elevator service. NYCHA has put its residents at risk. Today’s unprecedented settlement will improve life for the 400,000 residents who call NYCHA home, while ensuring accountability, reform, and oversight at this troubled institution.”

HUD’s Principal Deputy Inspector General Helen M. Albert said: “We are proud of the integral work that the OIG staff performed which led to today’s settlement. This represents a consequential partnership with the U.S. Attorney and others to ensure that those who reside in NYCHA housing will do so in safe and sanitary conditions.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said: “Instead of protecting children from lead poisoning, NYCHA systematically violated EPA and HUD lead paint safety regulations and covered up its noncompliance. Today’s landmark settlement puts a stop to that. It is not only a great example of what EPA and HUD can achieve by working together, but it also sends a strong message to housing authorities, landlords, and renovators – violating the law and endangering public health will not be tolerated. This agreement will dramatically improve the living conditions of New York City’s most vulnerable residents.”

In addition to annual public housing capital funding from HUD, New York City will provide the following financial investment to support NYCHA under this agreement:

  • $1 billion in capital funding over the first four years of the agreement;
  • $200 million in capital funding each year after the initial four-year period;
  • Additional operating and capital funds through 2027; and
  • The City will continue its current practice of not seeking payments from NYCHA for ‘payments in lieu of taxes’ and police services.

Working with the court-appointed Monitor, NYCHA will also institute a number of institutional changes at the agency.  These changes include the creation of a new Compliance Department to ensure NYCHA meets all federal, state and local regulatory requirements and ensures the integrity of physical inspections.  NYCHA will also create a new Environmental Health and Safety Department to address lead-based paint hazards, mold, heating, pests, elevators, air quality and other physical conditions that affect residents’ health or safety. In addition, NYCHA will create a Quality Assurance Unit to verify the completion and quality of maintenance work.

The Consent Decree resolves the Federal government’s civil complaint against NYCHA.  As a result of the agreement, HUD will lift it’s ‘zero threshold’ for NYCHA and allow the agency to resume spending its existing public housing capital funding without seeking prior HUD approval.  This year alone, HUD is providing NYCHA nearly $1.5 billion to further assist the agency to meet its capital needs and to operate its programs.

—- End of extended quoted from HUD statement. —-

With respect to the Lackey/SECO controversy, and its significance to MHVille. It should be noted that some SECO members and COBA7 “Allanites” have contacted MHProNews to point out that most communities don’t engage in such problematic behavior.

We’d note that those statements are true, and fit with what MHProNews has reported and stated editorially.

Happy MH Owners? Good Professional Actors? Overlooked, “Honorable People”

We’ve been encouraging for some time the separation of the “chaff and wheat” approach.  No one is perfect. But at the same time, the industry ought to defend its image by enforcing a reasonable, fair-to-all code of conduct.

George Allen Blasts MHI, NCC Ignoring Own, Spencer Roane, SECO, COBA7, Tom Lackey Controversies

It is precisely the fact that a few are not being corrected or admonished that’s tarnishing the reputation of good community operators.

That later point has been emphasized by other MHProNews readers. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

(Third party image, and/or content, are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

NorthStar and Manufactured Housing Radix

 

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Spencer Roane w/Southeast Community Owners (SECO), Praises Tom Lackey, Accused of Rent-to-Own Manufactured Home Sales Improprieties

May 15th, 2018 Comments off

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 We bought a trailer [1] that wasn’t really ours. I mean, it really hurt me.
My nerves have been tore up. I’ve been crying
.”

Tonya Evans, a customer of Tom Lackey’s Stoney Pointe MH Community business.

  

Spencer Roane is an RV MH Hall of Fame Inductee, and is one of a group of manufactured home land-lease community owners who has organized the Southeast Community Owners (SECO) symposium. 

Among the features of the annual SECO gathering? 

Talks by Roane on a controversial use of a lease-to-own (rent-to-own) program that he has previously said can be used to “finance” the sale of manufactured homes.

Roane was asked by the Daily Business News about Tom Lackey, who stands accused of ‘selling’ pre-owned manufactured homes rent-to-own. More on Roane’s reaction and comments to the troubling accusations, later below.

But first, what exactly is creating such a troubling mainstream media stir? 

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1) Terminology used is in the original, and isn’t the legally correct term. The homes in this sad story appear to be HUD Code manufactured homes, based upon photos, perhaps dating to the 1980s or 1990s.

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Charges of “Selling” Homes “Rent to Own,” Without Titles

According to accusations reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Lackey and his business did not own the homes that he “sold” rent-to-own.

18 residents learned their homes would be auctioned off for back taxes.

Tonya Evans and her family had a jolt when “…about five weeks ago, county workers showed up and taped a yellow seizure notice to their house. They did the same with 17 other mobiles homes [1]  at Stoney Pointe and Blue Ridge Estates, located around the block on Schmitt Road. Nobody had paid property taxes for years,” per Times Free Press staff writer Tyler Jett.

Lackey reportedly did not return calls and messages from the Times Free Press.

Nor did Tom Lackey reply to a number of direct and indirect queries from the Daily Business News, that invited him to share his version of the highly-emotionally – and legally charged – allegations.  But oblique comments about Lackey were offered by a colleague, Spencer Roane.

 

Spencer Roane’s Comments on Tom Lackey

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A SECO attendee who said they’re aware of the dynamics involved in this matter told MHProNews that ‘Spencer Roane has gone out of his way to protect Tom Lackey.’ 

Tom has been a member of our SECO planning group for several years. I couldn’t ask for a more professional, conscientious, or capable member of our team,” Roane said in a message to the Daily Business News.

Roane was asked about Lackey.  Roane was also asked about their often publicized to industry members ‘rent to own’ or ‘lease purchase option’ process.

I am somewhat familiar w/this situation [i.e; Lackey/Stoney Pointe] but am not comfortable commenting on it, except to say that lease-option contracts are [a] complicated, legally enforceable means of transferring ownership of MHs in some states,” Roane said.  

Roane added, “I’ve bcc’ed Tom on this msg. He will contact you if he wants to discuss it.” 

The SECO website shows Lackey on their planning team.

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Editorially, MHProNews believes that the majority of the industry’s professionals are honorable people. Every industry or profession has so-called ‘bad actors.’ Manufactured housing is no exception. But unlike many other industries, manufactured housing is routinely portrayed in a negative fashion in media reports. When allegations are false, they should be disputed. When allegations are true, ignoring them doesn’t help the industry, its home owners and leaves a problematic impression for potential buyers. An industry that policies itself may more often avoid such problems, and thus could avoid onerous legislation or regulations that can result from the ‘bad actions’ of a few. About the case of Tom Lackey and Stoney Pointe, all that is known at this time is as shown and linked. Lackey would not accept the Daily Business News’ offer to have him and/or his attorney explain their version of the events described in the Times Free Press.  To learn more about our view of the industry, its professional and overall happy home owners, click the related report below.” We Provide, You Decide.” ©

Happy MH Owners? Good Professional Actors? Overlooked, “Honorable People”

Apparently, Lackey did not want to explain his view on what took place with Tonya Evans, her family, and 17 other households that live in his community. Should he and/or his attorney offer a comment, we can update this report.

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George Allen, photo credit, MHProNews.com.

Blogger, COBA7 owner, and RV MH Hall of Famer retired Col. George Allen – who has been played a role in the SECO program – declined comment on the troubling story.   

I’m somewhat familiar with the matter. No comment from here,”  Allen said to the Daily Business News via email.  

As Allen’s COBA7 followers and others know, Allen has promoted Roane’s rent-to-own program and SECO for several years.  

 

What Local Authorities Said

Dealer rules and regulations are very clear,” said Danny Sane, the tax commissioner of Whitfield County. “You’re not supposed to be able to sell a car or a mobile home without the title in your name.”

Sane called the bill of sale ‘worthless,’ per the Times Free Press.

Walker County Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker said, Mr. Lackey must go through the proper proceedings before he can legally rent, or sell the mobile home [1],” Walker said in an email to the Times Free Press. Their report indicated that Lackey never obtained those titles to the manufactured homes they were ‘selling’ when he purchased the community in 2014.

 

Evans Paid Cash 

While most of Lackey’s customers were presumably ‘buying’ rent-to-own, Evans and her husband reportedly paid cash for their home.

Now, they’ve packed up and moved on, saying they had been defeated. 

What impact, if any, this has on Stoney Pointe, Lackey, SECO, COBA7 attendees and their followers is not easy to predict.  But some consequences wouldn’t be surprising.  And what will those various residents who thought they would become owners do?

The Times Free Press has signaled that this is going to be an ongoing investigation by their publication.

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Will the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) step in and comment on this troubling case? On rent-to-own a.k.a. ‘lease purchase option’ so-called ‘sales’?

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A source familiar with the matter from Georgia had this off-the-record comment, “…this is common among Community Owner’s because states don’t have appropriate abandoned housing laws, these guys buy a community and can’t move a home because it has ten years back taxes to pay for because customer died 8 years ago and family want moved the home. Doesn’t mean it’s right though. Georgia has a new Abandoned housing law that goes in effect July 1st that will help avoid this in the future.”

In the era of Google and internet-driven news searches, this is likely to be an ongoing image issue for many other community operators, and arguably the industry at large.  

It is part of what MHI award-winner Marty Lavin, JD,  has called tongue-in-cheek the industry’s “other image campaign.”

Lavin was travelling, and was not able to comment on the specific concerns in this case.  But he has previously noted the principles that people should pay more attention to what people do than what they say, and to follow the money.

  • Will the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) weigh in on the troubling issue?
  • Will MHI defend the reputation of those who strive day-by-day to serve their customers properly? 
  • Will Lackey respond to our numerous attempts to get him to comment on his version of these incidents? 
  • The Chattanooga Times Free Press news report is linked here. ## (News, analysis, and commentary)

(Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.) 

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[1] The terminology shown is in the original, and isn’t the proper legal name for the kind of home being described. To learn more about terminology and general industry facts, click here. MHProNews encourages mainstream media, and all others too, to use the proper terminology for each type of home. 

Update, on the record comments from GMHA (5.15.2018 at 11:43 AM ET):

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Jay Hamilton, Executive Director, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA).

We [GMHA] recognized the state had an issue and so we utilized the legislative process to rectify the problem. We know this [new] law is sound. We used the Alabama law for precedence and invited the states magistrate judges, tax commissioners, and bankers to the table. We worked together for two years until we had 100% agreement,” said Jay Hamilton, Georgia Manufactured Housing Association (GMHA) to MHProNews.

The Daily Business News pressed the GMHA, in a follow up, about Tom Lackey, Stoney Pointe, and the details of this specific matter.  In their follow up reply, Hamilton said via a text message the following.

The GMHA can’t comment on the specifics of such matters,” the GMHA executive director said.

But in general, when a potentially problematic issue exists with a member, there is a code of conduct and process the GMHA follows.”

The association is always focused on resolving underlying issues, and doing so in a manner that respects consumers and members alike,” Hamilton said to MHProNews.

Related Reports:

Governor Signs new “Mobile Home” Act

NPR’s Syringa Mobile Home Park Story, Revisited by Community Owner

 

Community Co-Owner/Manager View On Richard Jennison and the Manufactured Housing Institute StatePoint Advertorial

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