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Drama in Ohio: Fake News, Facts and Myths

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
DramainOhioFakeNewsFactsandMythscreditMediaNation-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Media Nation.

The ongoing battle between the Ohio Manufactured Housing Association (OMHA) and Ohio Governor John Kasich over the status of the Ohio Manufactured Housing Commission (OMHC) has been taken to a whole new level, with what informed sources  are calling “fake news.”

According to a story from WOSU, Gov. Kasich wants to merge the OMHC with the Department of Commerce, which includes the fire marshal’s office.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, The Ohio Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter to lawmakers at the end of March supporting a provision in the state budget to kill the commission. The Daily Business News covered the response from the commission in a story linked here.

Commentary from the association, and the state fire marshal, was inflammatory.

30 people died in 1,208 manufactured home fires between 2012 and 2016,” said the letter from the Association.

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Credit: OMHA.

Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than one- or two-family home,” said state Fire Marshal Larry Flowers, who cited a four-year study of state data showing there are more fatal fires in manufactured homes in Ohio than in any other surrounding state.

OMHA Executive Director Tim Williams fired back, calling out the association on their “facts,” pointing out the facts versus myths surrounding manufactured homes and fires, noting that homes built under post-1976 federal regulations have the same rates in this area as traditional homes.

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Tim Williams, OMHA.

The administration is spreading false information and misleading information because the commission is pushing back against Kasich’s proposal,” said Williams.

Local or state fire officials have no authority to inspect or educate or require different fire codes for manufactured homes.”

Williams has also testified extensively before three different House of Representatives Finance Committees.

The Swamp has risen up against our residents and industry. OMHA and AMHRO have united on behalf of our residents and businesses to oppose the Ohio Department of Commerce’s extravagant request for spending authority of 30% more to conduct the same program,” said Williams.

Incredibly, the Department of Commerce not only wants more money but would drastically reduce the Commission’s 100% inspection of all new and used home installations, thus jeopardizing the safety of our homeowners and residents.”

 

Terminology Matters 

In a recent story from the Daily Business News about mobile and manufactured home myths and facts, we shined a bright light on the differences between mobile and manufactured homes, and why terminology matters.

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Chief Mark Keller. Official Photo.

This fire involved a true mobile home and was not a manufactured home. I do not have the age of the mobile home available right now,” Urbana Fire Chief Mark Keller told MHProNews.

Mobile homes are inherently bad with fire conditions. They’re not really designed to withhold any kind of fire.”

As an Industry, we are always saddened to hear of such tragedies such as the fire that occurred in Champaign County,” said OMHA Assistant Director Andrea Reichman, commenting on the story.

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Andrea Reichman. Credit: LinkedIn.

As noted by the local Fire Chief Mark Keller, the home involved was a ‘mobile home,’ which indicates the home was built prior to the 1976 HUD Code Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards,” Reichman said.

Often times such incidents are reported inaccurately, and facilitate the image that manufactured homes are not safe when nothing could be further from the truth.  Manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on-site. The 1986 national fire safety study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes,” said Reichman.

The issues in Ohio point to a larger trend that’s happening nationally, and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has spoken out against what it calls “sloppy journalism.”

While any harm to people or property is regrettable, there is no excuse for sloppy journalism that can harm the industry and consumers. The fact is that today’s federally regulated manufactured homes are as safe or safer than other types of homes when it comes to fire, as shown by research done by the National Fire Protection Association on multiple fire safety metrics,” said M. Mark Weiss, JD, President CEO of MHARR.

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M. Mark Weiss. Credit: MHProNews.

It is therefore misleading and a disservice to readers to fail to distinguish between pre-1976 ‘mobile homes,’ said Weiss, and today’s manufactured homes. This is why MHARR successfully demanded several years ago that the U.S. Fire Administration remove similarly misleading language from it’s website. 

The industry and consumers need to insist on an accurate media portrayal of today’s high-quality manufactured homes,” said Weiss.

For more on the battle between the Governor’s office and OMHA over the OMHC, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

Drama, Take Three – MHC Infighting Over Potential Sale

April 20th, 2017 Comments off
MHCWeighsAcquisitionOfferUnderStrangeCircumstancescreditZillowBriarcrestEstates-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home in Briarcrest Estates. Credit: Zillow.

In the ongoing saga of Laconia, New Hampshire – based Briarcrest Estates, both the tempers, and stakes, are higher than ever.

According to the Laconia Daily Sun, Briarcrest co-op board members Joe McCarthy, Don Vachon and John Drouin have resigned from the six-member board, after they came under fire over a proposal to sell the community to Hometown America Corporation.

A special meeting has been called for April 24 to fill the vacancies, and another meeting has been set for May 20 to consider selling the community.

As the Daily Business News covered here, the Briarcrest story dates back to July 2013, when community owners Mark and Ruth Mooney tentatively agreed to sell the Briarcrest Estates to Hometown America for $10 million. In compliance with state law, the terms of the transaction were disclosed to the tenants, who had 60 days to make a counteroffer by presenting a purchase-and-sales agreement. The law requires the community owner to bargain in good faith with the residents or their organization.

Residents of Briarcrest Estates then formed The Lakemont Cooperative Inc. and, with assistance from ROC-USA and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, matched the offer from Hometown America Corporation.

After initial resistance, Mark and Ruth Mooney agreed to sell the 183 acre, 241 home site community to the cooperative, which has owned and managed it since April 2014.

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Credit: Google.

Fast forward to January 2017, when things changed. That change came in the form of a offer to buy Briarcrest Estates.

It was from Hometown America.

It’s an unsolicited offer, period. A fire-from-the hip” proposal, said Vachon at the time.

The Hometown America deal reportedly included retiring the outstanding balances on a $8 million loan from TD Bank and $2 million loan from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund as well as covering the prepayment penalty of $873,000 on the bank loan, closing costs and real estate transfer taxes associated with the transaction.

For some residents, the timing was “convenient.”

Although the board has claimed the offer was not solicited, the letter from Hometown America Corporation outlining its terms begins ‘per our discussions,’ indicating that board members have been communicating with Hometown America for some time,” said Katherine Carlson, who also was among the first officers of the cooperative.

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Credit: Briarcrest Estates.

Residents in the community say that it has become a neighbor-versus-neighbor battle, with one faction wanting to sell the community, and the other wanting it to remain a cooperative.

It’s just been ridiculous,” said McCarthy’s wife, Carrie, who said her husband and the other board members were unfairly targeted for suggesting cooperative members consider an unsolicited purchase offer.

There are a small number of people in this park [sic] who are so toxic,” said McCarthy.

All they are trying to do is stop the vote. It’s not all wonderful here in the co-op. People fight and argue. It’s like something you’d see on TV.”

Resident Louise Rosand, who is in favor of remaining a co-op, says that the ability to avoid rent hikes and keep control of the community are both critical. She also feels that the three board members who resigned were not completely honest about the situation with Hometown America.

They went behind our backs,” Rosand said. “There is no financial reason to sell. We are in good standing. We have extra money to put away. The bank loves us. The park has been running smoothly.

It’s kind of like a group against group. Your neighbor could be for or against. I live in a little section where there are four of us who are not for the sale, but if you go down the street you may find somebody who is for the sale. But you don’t go in your backyard and yell. You wave at everybody who goes by.”

 

ROC USA Commentary

An unrelated ROC USA community. Credit: ROC USA.

The ROC-NH program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund has helped convert nearly all of that state’s resident-owned communities, now numbering over a hundred. ROC-NH Director Tara Reardon told MHProNews it often takes time for a new cooperative to develop leaders and grow into what will become that community’s personality.

We’re confident that, if the process is transparent, the residents at Briarcrest will make the right decision for their neighbors’ and their own futures,” said Reardon.

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Mike Bullard. Credit: Linkedin.

ROC Members are empowered to make decisions for themselves and their communities. Democracy, as they say, isn’t always pretty, I think we can agree in the wake of last year’s elections, that’s a fact,” said Mike Bullard, ROC USA Communications and Marketing Manager, in an email to MHProNews.

But making a tough decision, or even a bad decision is better than having no choice at all.” ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

 

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.