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Urgency Grows, Another City Prepares Ban on Manufactured Homes

March 22nd, 2019 Comments off

 

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The report of yet another American city considering a ban on new manufactured housing is the most recent warning-flag for an issue that has been growing for several years in states across the country.

 

 

City of Bryan, TX, District Two Councilman Prentiss Madison, told KBTX that he is getting calls and messages from people on both sides of the issue, meaning for and against the ban.

I’m hearing from both sides of the issue,” said Madison.

If the proposed ordinance passes,” says KBTX,manufactured homes would not be allowed on vacant lots going forward. Those already living in a manufactured home would be grandfathered into the ordinance.”

Bryan has roughly 3,500 manufactured homes. A little more than half are in manufactured home communities, per local media. The rest are in mixed-use neighborhoods of conventional housing and manufactured homes, such as the Kemp Carver and Castle Heights neighborhoods.

This is about the community of Bryan,” said councilman Madison, per the local report linked here. “What do the citizens and the community wants to look like going forward?”

Or is this possibly about big money interests that want to eliminate competition under the guise of something else?  But set that question aside for later.

If Madison’s comment sounds negative to those with sensitive manufactured home industry ears, it did as well to Karl Radde. Radde is with Southern Comfort Homes, and he attended a Planning and Zoning (P&Z) meeting a few weeks earlier with D.J. Pendleton in Bryan, along with that state association’s executive director, per the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) website.

Radde has served in leadership roles for both the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) retailer council, and is also as a well liked prior chairman of the TMHA.

Radde’s pitch was based upon reason and compromise, per the TMHA and other informed sources.

As you guessed, that argument apparently fell on deaf ears as I was politely thanked for my comments,” said Radde.

While Radde made an intelligent argument, he and Pendleton – per TMHA’s report and other sources – failed to make an argument based upon the enhanced preemption clause of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA). Radde and other sources in and beyond Texas have provided additional insights to MHProNews, and as of the time that those comments were provided, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) had not weighed in. That too is a vexing pattern that’s becoming better known, as the report linked here reflects.

Castle Heights neighborhood association President Rafael Pena, who was previously on city council, says manufactured homes are necessary.

It’s a price point issue. Not everybody can afford a stick-built home,” said Pena. “I think we would love to be in a stick-built home, but a lot of times a lot of people don’t have enough money, they don’t earn enough at their jobs.

 


Kemp Carver’s neighborhood association president, Ray Arrington, was cited by local media saying that it’s an ordinance his neighbors should consider.

When we want curbs and gutters and improvements in our neighborhood, we have to look at what our tax base is,” said Arrington. “They are paying less taxes, so that calls for less services.”

It’s what J.D. Harper in neighboring  Arkansas once referred to as economic racism.

 

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Prior and arguable applicable statements by the Rev Donald Tye, Jr.

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Cases like the one noted often have hidden special interests operating in the background.  They may be using an ordinance or other bill to help eliminate manufactured housing as a form of competition to their interests. That may include those who would rather build housing projects instead of seeing manufactured homes. Tye explained that public housing – an entitlement – often yields addiction. Ownership vs. renting or living in “projects” leads to integrity, a view he likens to those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Bryan Proposal Purportedly Violates Federal Law, Plus Harms Local Economy

The case is a mirror of prior incidents in Indiana and California. In those other instances, they too had civic forces with motivations to limit or ban manufactured homes. But both municipalities rapidly revered themselves after city officials were contacted by MHProNews, which looped in two pro-industry non-profits, and provided legal references for each city’s leaders and attorneys to chew on. See the related reports, further below the byline and notices for details.

Radde provided MHProNews with more extensive comments, which will be reviewed at a future point, likely after this issue is resolved, as they are revealing and insightful.

Radde also wanted MHProNews to clarify a point, “while I have zero issues with Clayton Homes, the only new Clayton product my company has sold was a couple of Tru homes a few years back.  While we are about 65% preowned homes, our new line is primarily Fleetwood.  We have also recently added the Jessup line of homes.”

That requested comment from Radde brings up the Clayton question. Where are they in this troubling scenario? After all, Texas is the number one state in the nation for manufactured home sales, production, and shipments.  Where is Clayton’s defense of the industry and reputation?  Why aren’t they standing up for groups that Pena and Radde represents?

 

 

What if This Trend of Banning Manufactured Homes Continues Unabated?

Several factual as well as legal arguments can be made in such cases, but for whatever reasons, in spot checks by MHProNews, the MHIA and enhanced preemption are repeatedly not being presented to local officials. Why not?

Furthermore, where is the claimed clout that MHI is supposed to have? Don’t they proudly proclaim on their website that they represent all segments of factory-built housing? Why aren’t they sticking up for the rights of citizen’s like Pena? Or independents like Radde?

This case is the latest #NettlesomeThings issue of #Nimby vs. #Yimby.   In order to address growing threats like these, and others, the manufactured housing industry’s members are encouraged to attend an afternoon aimed at identify causes, outlining proposed proven cures, and then laying out action steps to create growth from challenges that will others only limit affordable manufactured home sales in the future.

 

Fix MH Industry Trick$ – Special Meeting at Tunica Show

 

See the related report, above, and others below for more details.

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MHProNews’ parent operation demonstrated to MHI over the course of years options for lending the charge on preemption or ways to improve image at a low cost. For years, even though our parent operation was an MHI member, MHI leaders ignored those options. Why? Could it be that slow growth allowed more consolidation by big boy companies and at a cheaper price? 

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That’s this morning’s troubling but true “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © See the related reports for more details. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Manufactured Home Industry Professionals Feedback, Manufactured Housing Institute and Zoning Related Issues – Part 1

February 27th, 2019 Comments off

 

ManufacturedHomeProfessionalsFeedbackManufacturedHousingInstituteZoningRelatedIssuesP1DailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

There are on- and off-the-record statements that will follow.  While the Daily Business News on MHProNews talks with industry professionals by phone on a regular basis too, our preference in using comments is to get the person to send their statements in an email, for our mutual accuracy.  There is no question in electronic messages about accurately conveying what was said. We note that some in the mainstream media are starting to use a similar process too.

 

That said, when someone is communicating “off the record” via email to MHProNews, they often use lingo, shorthand or don’t double-check their typing as well as they might if they would be named in an on-the-record statement.

There have been several replies and inputs from industry members about the MHProNews article linked below.  For those who have not yet read this report, which MHI has been asked to comment on prior to publishing, you can learn more in about 3 minutes at the linked text-image box below.

 

Dramatic Reversal, City Passes Urgency Ordinance Effectively Banning Manufactured Homes, Front & Back Stories

 

What is interesting is that a number of industry professionals forwarded a link to a new video that they thought addressed some of the safety and durability issues that caused concerns to Clearlake, CA city officials. That new video is posted further below.

 

MH Industry Pros Sound Off

Each of those quoted are MHI connected members, none are connected with the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). So that helps frame their comments.

First, the following from an MHI connected attorney, who said:

For Clearlake [CA] however as a government entity , it should not have different standards for MH than stickbuilt for its code , since the whole idea of federal HUD preemption is to prevent unreasonable discrimination in land use and building standard decisions respecting manufactured housing,” noting that the spacing and other typos are in the original.

Next, an on-the-record reply from Karl Radde, who is an MHI member and also a Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) member. Radde has held several board-level positions, and is an independent retailer, who sells Clayton products. We will look in the near term at longer, more in depth comments from Radde, who should be commended for speaking on-the-record, noting his formal statement is in ‘defense’ of MHI.

With respect to the recent Heath Jenkins/Regional Enterprises and this Clearlake, CA issues, Radde said:

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Karl Radde, Southern Comfort Homes, National Retailers Council, MHI and prior TMHA chairman, who still holds board positions.

I have no comment on the Regional Enterprises fellow because I do not have enough information to make an informed decision one way or the other.  This would be my take on other articles as well.  I am one guy but I am a member of MHI and I honestly believe they are doing good for the industry.  Is there room for improvement?  Quite possibly.  Anyone or any organization that says it doesn’t have room for improvement is fooling themselves.  Again, this is a general statement of belief, not a reference to anything specific.  There are those out there who don’t feel TMHA is doing enough good for the industry, and they are also entitled to their opinion.”

It should be noted anew that neither sources in Knoxville or with MHI replied on these issues. We documented our request, by bcc’ing other MHI members in our contact with Clayton Homes and MHI.

 

Longtime Industry Veteran Sounds Off

Next, let’s see what a longtime MHI-only member professional said, off-the-record.  He still has active ties to the industry.  Again, the spacing and other typographical errors are in the original.  A word in brackets were added to make clear the meaning of the writer.

When I got into the business in 1972, there was aluminum wiring in some and small windows in bedrooms..

All of that change June 15th, 1976.

All copper wiring… egress windows. etc

Older cars had no seat belts… they are still in service.. understand it

The ignorance is ramped [rampant] the modular is built to the  local code.. are you going to band them when they are built to the same standard code as any site built home… the very homes that the council folks live in

Well, but it came in on wheels… oh yea, how did your home get there, did it fly in? …  came in wheels

Somehow there seems to be an underlying thought that it costs less so it is sub-standard.

It cost less because it is built more efficiently…13% labor versus 30% labor… can you see labor, no  and secondly HUD code is a performance code, it will provide what you need and not overbuild to satisfy a local jurisdiction of some whim or belief.

MHI can also quote several studies (some colleges did some) …if you ask…. where there are less fires in manufactured housing as a % than site built.    one could say you are safer in a manufactured home?”

 

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Factory-Built Homes, So Strong that they Survive the Storm

Here is the video that a number of professionals sent, to exemplify the durability of factory-built housing.  While it is clearly a commercial, it is nevertheless an intelligent presentation of what happened, and includes interview clips with homeowners whose home survived Hurricane Michael when the others around it were severely damaged or destroyed.

 

 

 

The home shown is a Palm Harbor brand modular home.  But it must be stressed that a HUD Code manufactured home at this same local would have been ‘hurricane rated’ by code requirements too.

To demonstrate the point, the video in the article linked below includes an eye-opening statement by a weather professional plus spotlights HUD Code manufactured homes that survived either a tornado or a hurricane.

 

Weather Expert’s Surprising, Bombshell Statement on Tornado Deaths and Affordable Manufactured Homes

 

The points are many.  The industry has a tremendous story to tell.  MHI claims to be representing that post-production sector of the industry. Where is their performance?  How does the latest research help the industry, when several of even the top states involved in HUD Code manufactured home sales are in decline?

MarkWeissMHARRPresidentManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Mark Weiss, JD. President and CEO, Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform.

Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform put it well when he called MHI’s efforts, “The Illusion of Motion.”

Weiss also called on the industry’s post production sector to begin acting, not just talking.  See the related reports, further below. If MHI or the folks in Knoxville had a good come-back, wouldn’t they have already made it?

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Here’s another invitation for them to do so either in writing, or it can be live in front of industry professionals at the Tunica Show. Note that so far, there is no explanation as to why MHI – the industry’s ‘post-production national association’ – has failed to directly intervene in cases like the one we explored at at Clearlake, CA, or Washington, IN. For the sake of future growth, MHProNews will continue to spotlight those failures to act, as necessary.   “We Provide, You Decide.” (News, analysis, commentary.)

 

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SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

 

 

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Urban Institute says Preservation, Manufactured Homes are Solutions to Affordable Housing Crisis

September 1st, 2016 Comments off
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NOTE: If you hear sounds coming on, scroll down to the FEMA manufactured housing report, and push PAUSE on the video. Sorry, but that video only offered an autoplay function. MHProNews-produced videos do not do that…Urban Institute affordable housing map. ELI means extremely low income, see related article, linked here.

Affordable housing options are becoming less plentiful around the country, but according to Urban Institute researchers, there are ways to sidestep what has become an outright crisis.

The numbers surrounding the lack of affordable housing across the U.S. are staggering.  In their map shown at the top left, light colored areas represent less affordable housing options.  Only the dark blue areas are more affordable.

Urban Institute research has laid out a handful of ways to avert, or at the very least, minimize the damage being done by the loss of over 2 million affordable housing units in just over a decade.

In this report, the solutions examined all revolve around the idea of preserving the housing that already exists, rather than try to develop more.  The report wasn’t anti-development; rather, it focused on examining an alternative option.

Preservation of housing stock tends to be a more affordable option than new conventional construction, even if it might not be as “sexy, as Urban Institute research associate Mark Trekson puts it.

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Mark Treskon, Urban Institute.

More importantly, preservation means current residents are less likely to be displaced than they would be in a new construction scenario.

Quoting from the attached report, “Another lesson from these case studies is developer capacity: the bigger a project, the more sophisticated the methods needed—and partners involved—to make it successful.”

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Photo collage credit, Vida Lea Coop.

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Preserving Manufactured Home Communities

One of the Urban Institute’s roads to more affordable housing featured in their in-depth report linked here features manufactured homes and land-lease communities, like the one in the photo and chart above.

As industry professionals know, manufactured homes are less expensive because of the money saved from less time and labor being used, plus less material being wasted. Not only do people spend less money by living in a manufactured home, but the Urban Institute study suggests they could find themselves with an opportunity to earn money off the land in the communities they occupy.

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Vida Lea is the example of preservation used in the Urban Institute study, linked above. Photo credit, Vida Lea Co-op.

Millions of manufactured homeowners don’t own the land they live on. The majority of the time, that works out fine for residents and for the property owners.  But there are times when a community, its owner(s) – and thus its residents – comes to a crossroads.

The Urban Institute explains that places like Vida Lea Mobile Estates in Leaburg, OR witnessed its residents purchase the 33-space community from its owner. The coop/resident buyers turned their leased home sites into a Resident Owned Community (ROC). This model allows its members to not only own their already affordable manufactured home, but to also gain control of the property it was sited upon.

As once-vacant manufactured home-sites are filled, the site fees (aka “lot rent”) generate revenue by leasing out spaces, which further cover operating expenses.

That model turned out to be a successful one of preservation of affordable housing for the Vida Lea Mobile Estates residents. They were able to keep their homes and improve upon them, with repairs to the sewage system and driveways as well as add some amenities like laundry machines and some common areas. Upgrades like those may seem relatively minor in the long run, but the $275,000 spent on those improvements can go a long way towards helping residents not only stay where they are, but also produce additional income for the community, which keeps the costs lower for all involved.

The Flip Side – A Case of No Preservation

This case is one not in the UI report. It’s one of several community-related stories that are not working out as well as Vida Lea. In addressing an issue in his home state of a improperly run MHC that was allowed to run down and then be sold off, the prior chairman of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association made the following observation.

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Karl Radde, Southern Comfort Homes, Chairman, National Retailers Council, MHI.

At the end of the day, it takes everyone working together to better the situation and that must include responsible, fair and balanced regulations by cities and towns and not the trend to have outright bans on all manufactured housing,” says Southern Comfort Homes President and General Manager, Karl Radde. “Not all communities can be “Five Star” resort-type destinations, but there’s a strong need for basic, secure, well-kept communities to serve affordable housing.”

Radde’s point, while not a direct comment on the report below, relates to a story out of Florida reported by the Daily Mail, about yet another unappealing MH community, and its closure.

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In this June 14, 2016 photo, residents of the Little Farm trailer park pose for a group photo in El Portal, Fla. The 15-acre neighborhood was home to a close-knit community until the site was purchased by Wealthy Delight, LLC, and residents were evicted. The area is in preliminary planning for mixed use development. — Daily Mail. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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Marty Lavin, JD.

The Little Farm “trailer park,” the DailyMail says, has been home to dozens of Haitians, Hispanics and others for years to decades. In a commentary on this specific closure, attorney and industry finance expert Marty Lavin had this to say: “…real people, in closing manufactured home communities, are financially and emotionally injured, especially the financially fragile folks who live in our land lease communities (LLCs).”

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In this June 13, 2016 photo, graffiti is written on the side of a mobile home at the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal, Fla. In a city known for its glitzy, luxurious condo towers, affordable rental housing is hard to come by. Residents, many of whom had owned their mobile homes in this close-knit community for years, were evicted in July after the park was purchased in 2015 by Wealthy Delight, LLC. The site is now in preliminary planning for mixed use development. – DailyMail. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Lavin elaborated. “Whether we like it or not, LLCs have a special obligation. We [community owners] hold ourselves out as a site to buy a HUD Code manufactured home, and invite home buyers to essentially stay forever.” 

Nelly Shirley, Little Farm Trailer Park, El Portal FL

In this July 12, 2016 photo, Nelly Shirley, 74, poses outside of her mobile home at the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal, Fla. She received a beautification award for creating the lush, tropical garden around her mobile home where she lived for 22 years, but was evicted in July after the park was purchased in 2015 by Wealthy Delight, LLC. She received an $8,000 settlement for her relocation, and is now living in a one-bedroom apartment. The park will be razed. – DailyMail.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“Then one day, the property reaches renewal, and we chose to sell and send the people out on the street. Because of the fragile people who live with us, sympathy easily arises.”

That sympathy often hits the local or regional news, and contributes to the image issue that the manufactured housing industry faces.

Lavin said that he personally sold two communities he owned to the residents, using the ROC process. Along with Vida Lea Mobile Estates in Leaburg, OR and hundreds of other communities, Lavin’s selling to the residents is an example of preservation, which the Urban Institute study notes is so important for affordable housing preservation across the country. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

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Joe Dyton, for the Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Article submitted by Joe Dyton, to the Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Connected Community Owner “Should be Facing Criminal Charges” for conditions at the “park”

August 26th, 2016 Comments off
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Photo credit, Houston Chron, text credit, MHProNews.

Most manufactured home communities are run by owners and professionals who care about their residents, the conditions at their location(s) as well as the look and safety of their property.  But when a community operator runs their location like the proverbial “trailer park,” it’s bad for residents and impacts the image of the industry at large.

That harm doesn’t sit well with most professionals in the industry.

I become incensed when I see examples of the absolute worse type of landlord,” said Richard Nodel, owner of Nodel Parks, an operation that spans 10 states and some 7000 home sites.

Nodel was speaking about McCartney’s Mobile Home Park, owned and operated by Baytown City Councilman David McCartney.

Mike Snyder, writing for the HoustonChronicle described the property this way, “Trash lay everywhere. Water stood in huge ruts and holes, inviting mosquitoes. Most of the mobile homes were in sad shape: peeling siding, holes in walls or ceilings, rusty air conditioners sagging from windows. A tangle of extension cords connected two homes to a generator. An electrical box stood open, its metal casing dismembered.”

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Karl Radde, Southern Comfort Homes, Chairman, National Retailers Council, MHI, past Chairman Texas Manufactured Housing Association.

Stories like this are the kind of thing that generally helps cast such a negative light on our industry,” said Karl Radde, President & GM, of Southern Comfort Homes, in Bryan, TX. “It is very hard for me to advocate for manufactured housing when not only do I have to overcome the typical negative stereotyping of our product, but also stories such as this.

Radde has served as the past Chairman of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association and is currently the Chairman of the National Retailers Council with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).  “At the end of the day it takes everyone working together to better the situation, and that must include reasonable, fair and balanced regulations by cities and towns, and not the trend to have outright bans on all manufactured housing,” Radde explained.  “Our product is a good one and I for one will do all I can to promote it.”

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MH Industry pros know the quality and value that manufactured housing offers the public today. The photo above is of one of the single section model homes at Karl Radde’s Southern Comfort Homes, Bryan TX.

Houston’s Channel 2 TV did a report on the property just days before, and filed the video report shown below.

 

 

Baytown’s city manager, Rick Davis, told Channel 2 that “We have no intention of continuing any condition that presents a danger to health and safety.” But in fact, the condition has persisted for years, according to health records.  The location has been operating without a permit for years.

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Baytown City Councilman David McCartney, owner, McCartney’s Mobile Home Park.

Maybe I’m a little too compassionate with people. I have a hard time throwing a long-term resident out on the street,” McCartney said. The councilman has owned the property for some 15 years. It’s pending a sale, with a national retailer in line to redevelope half the nearly 3-acre parcel at 1306 N. Alexander, with the other half also reportedly under contract too.

Nodel told MHProNews,These are people that prey on the poor and powerless members of their community. It’s obvious this guy has been able to keep the property open only because of his position in the city.”

I just want people to know we’re trying to do everything we can with that property so it fits in with the community, so that in the long run, they’ll be glad I did what I did,” McCartney said.

McCartney reportedly owns other property in the area, so McCartney’s Mobile Home Park isn’t his only investment.

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One of Richard Nodel’s manufactured home communities, photo credit, NodelParks.

MHProNews reached out to the TMHA for comments, which had not responded as of the time this story was published.  But in the past, the TMHA has stated they are not in the business of protecting bad actors.  Members of that and other manufactured housing associations commit to professional and ethical standards. Most, like Nodel and Radde, aren’t at all happy with this type of conduct towards residents; nor about the black eye it gives to hard-working owners and professionals in the manufactured home industry.

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Richard Nodel, owner, Nodel Parks, photo credit, LinkedIn.

Having done business in many small Texas towns like Baytown,” Nodel stated, “I can tell you that the “good ole boy” system is still in effect. If it were you of me, we would not be getting away with it. Whether it is a MHC, rental home or apartment building, property owners like this should be facing criminal charges.”  ##

(Image credits as shown above.)

(Editor’s Note: Matthew Silver is taking some much needed and well-earned time off, and L. A. “Tony” Kovach will be helping fill the Daily Business News role in the interim).

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is an MH industry veteran, service provider, consultant and the publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com.

Article submitted by, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.com.