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Drama in Ohio: Fake News, Facts and Myths

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
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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. ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

UPDATE: OMHA Provides Additional Details in OMHC Fight

April 7th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: OMHA.

In a story that the Daily Business News has covered extensively, the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) has provided an update regarding the battle with Ohio Governor John Kasich over the status of the Ohio Manufactured Housing Commission (OMHC).

According to the Dayton Daily News, Governor Kasich is calling for the OMHC to be disbanded, and its responsibilities delegated to the Ohio Department of Commerce. The call is part of the governor’s budget proposal pending before the Ohio General Assembly.

OMHA Executive Director Tim Williams has testified extensively before three different House of Representatives Finance Committees.

Additionally, OMHC commission members Ron Younkin of Greenlawn Homes and Evan Atkinson of Clayton Homes have also testified, along with Frank Pojman, President of the Association of Manufactured Home Residents of Ohio (AMHRO) and Jim Demetrus also of AMHRO and the former resident appointee to the MH Commission.

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Tim Williams, OMHA Executive Director.

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.”

Six of the nine members of the OMHC are appointed by the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate President appoints, each appointing three, representing various industry segments.

The Governor appoints the remaining three seats on the Commission.

The OMHA points out that the Governor has failed to appoint a manufactured home resident for two years and for the better part of five years has left the health sanitarian seat empty on the commission, appointments which are required by law.

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Credits: Official Photos, OMHA, OMHC, Digital Imaging Reports, Ohio EPA.

In his written testimony before two House of Representatives Committees, Mr. Pojman made a very strong statement regarding the commission’s commitment.

AMHRO’s view has not wavered in its support of the MH Commission. I urge any of your Committee to review agendas and minutes of the MH Commission meetings, to see the all-important issues that are discussed, for the benefits and safety of manufactured homeowners,” said Pojman.

When you look at all nine members, who make up the Commission, you’ll see the most important segments of our industry, putting manufactured housing ideas and plans together, that will always make it better at ground level and above.“

Additionally, the Manufactured Housing Institute’s Rick Robinson testified in support of the commission, noting the National Fire Protection Association’s 2013 study regarding the excellent fire safety record of modern manufactured homes.

Further, Matthew Klein, an engineer and president of Criterium Cincinnati Engineers, having done over 1000 OMHC inspections, responded to an article in the Dayton Daily News written by Josh Sweigart that suggested manufactured homes were not safe. Klein insists homes installed since the formation of the OMHC are much safer, and that disbanding the commission will cost the state more money and result in less safe manufactured homes. For his letter, click here.

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story and provide updates. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

UPDATE: OMHA Fires Back in Manufactured Housing Commission Battle

April 4th, 2017 Comments off
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Credits: Official Photos, OMHA, OMHC, Digital Imaging Reports, Ohio EPA.

In a story that the Daily Business News originally covered here, the battle between the office of Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Manufactured Housing Commission (OMHC) has heated up yet again.

And, the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) is firing back.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Governor Kasich is calling for the OMHC to be disbanded, and its responsibilities delegated to the Ohio Department of Commerce. The call is part of the governor’s budget proposal pending before the Ohio General Assembly.

At the core of the campaign against the Commission are the claims from Ohio fire and environmental officials who say the board doesn’t do enough to prevent manufactured home fires and ensure clean drinking water in the MH communities.

But industry professionals, including OMHA Executive Director Tim Williams, are backed with facts, and say that there’s more to the story.

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

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Tim Williams, OMHA Executive Director.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, we have pointed 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, and Williams pointed to similar data.

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

Association of Manufactured Home Residents in Ohio President Frank Pojman says that in many cases, manufactured homes are actually safer.

When these houses are built, they are inspected at the factory,” said Pojman.

When they leave the factory, it has a tag that says it meets federal safety standards. You don’t get that in a stick built home.”

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Credit: Stoveguard, MHLivingNews.

For one industry professional, who is also involved with the commission, the need for it is obvious.

I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Evan Atkinson, general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeyburg and a commissioner on the board.

Since the commission was created, the number of complaints about mobile home installation has plummeted from hundreds to a number you can count on one hand. What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

Atkinson says that the commission currently requires inspection of every single home installed in Ohio, and points out that it’s a commitment the Department of Commerce has not made.

I believe there’s a probably a good likeliness that homes may not be installed as well as they are currently being installed,” said Atkinson. He also noted that after establishing new rules for licensing and inspections, the commission has heard one complaint in the last three years, as opposed to the more than 500 complaints every year from consumers about mobile home installation before the commission was created in response to federal rules in 2003.

I think the Manufactured Homes Commission has proven they do the right thing by consumers in Ohio, and that’s very much proven by the number of dispute resolution cases there used to be and the number of dispute resolution cases today,” said Atkinson.

 

From Fire to Water

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Credit: OMHA.

In addition to the onslaught from Ohio fire officials, the Ohio EPA told the Dayton Daily News that its efforts to “force Ohio mobile home parks [sic] to provide their residents safe drinking water have been slowed by inaction on the part of the commission.”

In a statement, the Ohio EPA says that it shares oversight with OMHC over the state’s 250 manufactured home communities that operate their own water systems.

This includes Pineview Estates in Miamisburg, where about 400 residents routinely lost running water; and Catalpa Grove Mobile Home Park in Dayton, where the owner failed to test the system for contaminants such as lead, copper and bacteria,” the EPA said in the statement.

In both cases, the Manufactured Homes Commission denied any appreciable assistance to the Ohio EPA in taking action on the park’s [sic] license, instead forcing the EPA to pursue the issue through lengthy court battles. The manufactured homes commission rarely – if ever – bothers to use its full regulatory authority to enforce safe water rules.”

According to OMHC director Janet Williams dealing with the EPA caused more confusion than progress.

We have never had clear authority to take action against a mobile home park [sic] owner’s license for water quality issues since we began licensing mobile home parks [sic] in December 2012,” said Williams.

We want to work with them in the process of whatever legal avenue we have to help them enforce the water rules they have in manufactured home parks [sic].”

Strong words from the Ohio EPA came as a surprise to Tim Williams.

The EPA showed little interest in increasing oversight of manufactured home communities in the past.”

Jim Demitrus, who was on the commission board from 2006 through 2015, pointed out that pulling a manufactured home community’s license over water issues would lead to serious and potentially severe consequences for residents.

If they pull the license, everybody in that community has to move out,” said Demitrus.

I would like to see somebody in state government do that. Pull the license, and you have to move 100 families.”

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story closely and provide updates. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Manufactured Home Commission Under Fire, After Fire

March 30th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: OMHA.

A recent manufactured home fire in Urbana, Ohio, has officials across the state calling for bold action.

Their target is the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission.

According to the Dayton Daily News, fire officials across Ohio are backing a proposal by Governor John Kasich to abolish what they call an “industry-controlled agency that regulates manufactured homes,” saying the commission does too little to protect manufactured home residents from deadly fires.

The Ohio Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter to lawmakers last week supporting a provision in the state budget to kill the commission and roll its functions into the Ohio Department of Commerce. The Daily Business News covered the response from the commission in a story linked here.

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

Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than one- or two-family home.”

The Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission is responsible for licensing inspectors across the state, who oversee the installation of about 3,000 homes a year. It also regulates the state’s 1,600 manufactured home communities. The commission has oversight from a nine-member board, which is appointed by the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly.

For its detractors in the state, the Commission also has its supporters.

I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Evan Atkinson, general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeyburg and a commissioner on the board.

Since the commission was created, the number of complaints about mobile home installation has plummeted from hundreds to a number you can count on one hand. What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

Atkinson says that the commission currently requires inspection of every single home installed in Ohio, and points out that it’s a commitment the Department of Commerce has not made.

I believe there’s a probably a good likeliness that homes may not be installed as well as they are currently being installed,” said Atkinson.

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Credit: Stoveguard, MHLivingNews.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, we have pointed out the facts versus myths surrounding manufactured homes and fires, pointing out that homes built under post-1976 federal regulations have the same rates in this area as traditional homes.

Ohio Fire Marshal Larry Flowers insists that moving the inspection and licensing of manufactured homes into the Department of Commerce, where his agency is, will allow them to coordinate better on fire prevention.

What we believe is that there just needs to be more oversight and transparency in the process when these things are inspected initially,” said Flowers.

This will allow us to work more closely together with our partners in the department of commerce.

But Atkinson says that working more closely together isn’t an issue.

If that is a major concern, the folks within the commission would be more than willing to work with the state fire marshal as well,” said Atkinson.

The commission would welcome the opportunity to work with the state fire marshal and be able to get 100 percent of manufactured homes inspected and installed properly.” ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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