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Candidate: Beef Up Manufactured Home Community Inspections

May 17th, 2017 Comments off
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Oak Hollow Community. Credit: San Antonio Express.

In San Antonio, Texas, District 8 councilman and mayoral hopeful Ron Nirenberg is making a push to change the municipal code.

According to My San Antonio, Nirenberg, fresh off an endorsement from former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, is looking to beef up the city’s inspections of manufactured home communities, and the City Council Neighborhoods and Livability Committee approved his proposal earlier this week.

The city will now conduct public meetings with various stakeholders, to determine exactly how to amend the municipal code that regulates communities.

Additional changes could include enabling the city to levy higher fines or pursue civil penalties against mobile home park [sic] owners who repeatedly violate the code,” said Michael Shannon, the city’s interim director of development services.

Currently, the city can only press criminal charges against community owners.

This is an effort to address what I think is a gap in policy, to make sure we have some proactive inspections,” said Nirenberg.

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Cleanup at Oak Hollow. Credit: San Antonio Current.

Nirenberg says that he proposed the measure after the city ordered the relocation of families in the Oak Hollow Mobile Home Park, which is in his district, of overflowing septic tanks and other poor conditions. The Daily Business News originally covered that story here.

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Sewage Line at Oak Hollow. Credit: KABB.

In this case, Joe Mangione, owner of Oak Hollow Mobile Home Park, has been served a cease and desist order by the city. The order tells him to stop lying to his “tenants.”

I’ve lived there four years, and then my sisters lived there for at least 15 years before that. It’s always smelled like this, I just never knew where it came from,” said one of the residents.

I mostly keep [my daughters] indoors now.

Upon investigation, the city found raw sewage leaking from decrepit septic tanks and directly into the park’s soil, including one leak directly underneath a tenant’s home. The resident was forced to avoid one of the rooms due to the smell.

The city determined that 12 of the homes were in such bad shape that the health department was legally bound to alert those living in Oak Hollow that they would need to move out of their home and into hotel rooms, paid for by the city, until the landlord addressed the problem.

Current law states that manufactured home communities must register with the San Antonio Department of Heath and are subject to inspection, but Nirenberg says that sites are not routinely inspected, and often only go to communities after receiving a complaint.

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Julian Castro and Ron Nirenberg take a selfie. Credit: My San Antonio.

My concern was that we prevent the kind of issue we saw at Oak Hollow,” said Nirenberg.

We know if mobile home parks [sic] fly under the radar, there’s really no guarantee of that.”

Nirenberg says his hope is that increasing inspections are part of a larger package of reforms to the city code.

His goal is to establish communications and assistant protocols in the event another Oak Hollow situation arises.

In the case of Oak Hollow, there was an extended displacement, where the residents were placed in hotels, and there was only a short period of assistance for them to do so,” said Nirenberg.

According to Deputy City Attorney Joe Nino, the city filed a suit against Oak Hollow in December and is trying to work out a settlement.

A for sale sign is posted on the property,” said Nino.

 

The Julian Castro Effect 

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Credit: Bloomberg.

In December 2015, Castro praised the manufactured home industry, saying in part “a good home is a powerful platform to spark progress in people’s lives. It connects families to the communities that surround them, and it lays the foundation for their health, their happiness and their future success.

That’s why we call HUD, ‘The Department of Opportunity.’ And that’s the importance of the work we do together.

The United States faces an affordable housing crisis. And manufactured homes serve as a vital solution for folks of modest means, particularly in rural areas.”

The full commentary from Castro is linked 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, MHProNews.

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

 

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ROC Leaders Meet at Texas Conference

November 17th, 2016 Comments off
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Credit: MHLivingNews.

Esthela Garza, president of the Pasadena Trails resident-owned community (ROC), and new member Paula Maldonado, were featured on a panel discussing the basics of manufactured housing at the “I’m Home” conference in San Antonio November 14th-16th.

Many of the residents were happy to live there, but now they participate in this community, too,” Garza said through a translator. “Our Members have responsibilities – they help out, they serve on the Board of Directors and committees, and it’s improving Pasadena Trails.

The I’m Home conference was designed for housing industry experts looking to unlock the potential of manufactured housing, organized by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).

For the full story from MHLivingNews, click here. ##

(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.

City tells Community Owner, Stop Lying – called a “Slumlord”

October 24th, 2016 Comments off
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Cleanup at Oak Hollow. Credit: San Antonio Current.

On the northwest side of San Antonio, a literally smelly controversy has been brewing.

According to multiple news sources, including the San Antonio Current, the owner of Oak Hollow Mobile Home Park has been served a cease and desist by the city.

The order tells him to stop lying to his “tenants.”

The story begins with complaints to the city of San Antonio by residents of the community regarding a strong sewage smell.

I’ve lived there four years, and then my sisters lived there for at least 15 years before that. It’s always smelled like this, I just never knew where it came from,” said one of the residents, who asked the Current to keep his identity anonymous for fear of retribution. “I mostly keep [my daughters] indoors now.

Upon investigation, the city found raw sewage leaking from decrepit septic tanks and directly into the park’s soil, including one leak directly underneath a tenant’s home. The resident was forced to avoid one of the rooms due to the smell.

The city determined that 12 of the homes were in such bad shape that the health department was legally bound to alert those living in Oak Hollow that they would need to move out of their home and into hotel rooms, paid for by the city, until the landlord addressed the problem.

What happened next was unexpected by some.

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Oak Hollow Community. Credit: San Antonio Express.

Joe Mangione, the owner of Oak Hollow, sent out a letter to residents with the following message, “The City of San Antonio has condemned the Mobile Home Park and will be giving out notices to vacate.”

According to city officials, they have done no such thing.

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Ron Nirenberg. Credit: San Antonio Express.

We have families that feel as if they are being uprooted by the city,” said Councilman Ron Nirenberg, whose district includes the Oak Hollow property.

Really, this is about a mobile home [sic] millionaire that has let property go into decay to the point that government has to force compliance.

According to Nirenberg, he contacted Mangione after hearing about the sewage leaks over two weeks ago. When Nirenberg and city staff demanded an explanation for the situation, Mangione offered an unexpected response.

He agreed his property was contaminated and uninhabitable – and that he’d sell it.

The property owner is using this opportunity to further his ultimate goal to sell the property, said Maria Cesar, communications director for Nirenberg’s office.

(Editor’s Note: as Richard Nodel’s comments below suggest, 
most MH Community owners do not operate in this fashion.
For an example of a different experience, click here.)

The Daily Business News has attempted to reach Mangione for comment, and has not received a response.

The Current reports that after reaching the staff at Oak Hollow, they were told that Mangione would not return calls until he got a lawyer.

According to Victoria Mather, a professor at St. Mary’s School of Law with a background in landlord and tenant law, the use of city intervention as an “easy out” isn’t unusual.

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Victoria Mather. Credit: St. Mary’s School of Law.

When it becomes too expensive for a landlord to fix a problem like this, they sell,” said Mather.

This used to be really common in the 60’s, especially with apartment buildings. But it still happens all over the country. 

Mather also told the Current that the only way residents could legally fight back is if Mangione broke a rental contract that promised maintenance upkeep or specific eviction rules. “You can’t force a landlord to stay in business,” said Mather.

Rumors, and the nationality of the tenants, provide an additional twist to this story.

We are not taking your home away from you and we are not going to take our eyes off this situation,” Nirenberg told a meeting of the residents.

Rumors were circulating that the city was going to evict all of the tenants and that they were being punished for reporting the sewage leaks. Nirenberg had to speak slowly enough for a staff member to translate.

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Sewage Line at Oak Hollow. Credit: KABB.

Many of the park’s residents are Hispanics, and only understand Spanish. Several claimed that the threat of being reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was a common threat used by Mangione to keep them quiet.

MH Industry Voices Sound Off on the Issue

Karl Radde, General Manager of Southern Comfort Homes and a long-time board member of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association, said, “My very basic initial take at this point is that it seems to be a situation where a city is wanting an owner to repair infrastructure and for reasons unknown from this [local news] article, the owner isn’t or hasn’t,” said Radde.

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Karl Radde, Southern Comfort Homes, Chairman, National Retailers Council, MHI. Radde’s complete thoughts on this issue are linked here.

However, as what is many times missing from these kinds of [local news] articles is the degree of failure and what the remedy would be,” Radde stated.

Certainly, like the Austin gardening plots conundrum, some things at first glance reading seem to be very good and simple ideas or solutions,” Radde, who has worked with manufactured home communties, said.  “In this case however, IF, the city is saying the repair is to dig up the old system, have hazmat crews remove the contaminated soil within three feet around the distressed area, pay exorbitant fees to have it disposed of at a recognized contaminated soil disposal site, and then install On-Site Sewage Facilities (TCEQ’s hundred-dollar word for septic system) that may not physically be possible in the space allowed; then they may as well be condemning it, just not going through the condemnation process.

An MH Community Owner with Texas Properties Views

I doubt that my reaction is different from anybody else reading this,” said Richard Nodel. “It is just another classic example of a slum landlord taking advantage of people that because of their position are either afraid to speak up or can’t afford to move.

Nodel also spoke to the perceptions that hurt the manufactured housing industry.

People on the bottom rung of our economic ladder in effect become hostages to the place they live, no matter how miserable it might be,” said Nodel.

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All of Richard Nodel’s observations on this issue are at this link here.

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It’s very easy to take advantage of people like this. We have several properties that are blue collar, family parks. We believe that they are entitled to the same safe, healthy environment as those residents in our fancy resort properties.

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story, and will provide an update if Mangione and/or his attorney provide comments. ##

(Editor’s Note: as stated on the complete commentary from Karl Radde, linked here, were provided prior to additional information and sources on this developing story came to light. His qualified comments above still apply to this or similar situations.)

(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 Siting Approved, but Owners Yield to Residents’ Suggestions

May 15th, 2015 Comments off

bandera_texas_flood_1987__gendisasters__creditBud and Tiffni Graham’s plans to install manufactured homes received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission in Bandera, Texas, just northwest of San Antonio, as bccourier tells MHProNews. Although sited in the floodway of the Medina River, the homes were to be placed on pilings to remain above a 500-year flood, and would help meet the need for rental properties in the city.

However, during a Bandera City Council meeting May 7, several residents spoke out against the plan, recalling the flood of 1987 in which lives were lost and houses got washed away. Dorothy Darden says she lost her manufactured home down to the floor, saying floodwaters have a tendency to rise quickly. “The Medina River rose in four hours, not seven or eight,” said Darden.

Tom Laxson said debris being swept down the river could knock homes off their pilings, noting, “If you allow this, it cannot be a burden to taxpayers if something happens and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) rules that the city is at fault. Two people were killed in the 1978 flood. Think about what could happen down the line.

A suggestion was made to re-purpose the property into a recreational vehicle (RV) site, to which the Graham’s agreed, saying there would be room for eight RVs. Recognizing the poential for danger, Bud Graham said, I don’t want to take a chance so I’ll pay the fee and go back to P&Z (with this request),” he added. “In my heart this is what I would rather do. ##

(Photo credit: gendisasters–Bandera, TX flood 1987)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Two of the Top Five Single-family Housing Markets Live in Texas

April 16th, 2015 Comments off

top_5_markets__auction_dot_com__in_housingwire_april_2015Collating data on rising home prices, affordability, strong housing demand, and excellent economic demographics, housingwire tells MHProNews Auction.com has chosen the five top single-family housing markets.

Auction.com Executive Vice President Rick Sharga says, “As the U.S. housing market has continued to recover from the Great Recession, we’ve seen significant regional variances in terms of both price appreciation and sales volume. Earlier in the recovery, most of the growth came from markets that had suffered the biggest declines during the housing bust, but what we’re seeing today is more in line with fundamental economic trends: markets with the best job growth and population growth are recovering most quickly.

Denver tops the list with a 9.2 percent home price growth year-over year and an increase in employment of 4.3 percent in one year. The number two spot is claimed by San Antonio, with its four percent unemployment rate, having added 8,000 jobs in the last two months and a population growth of two percent in 2014.

The third position belongs to Nashville where employment has grown in 12 of the previous 14 months, home sales have risen four percent in the last 12 months and home prices have risen 6.2 percent in the last year. Number four is Fort Lauderdale, which has seen employment grow 4.2 percent over the past year, one of the fastest growth rates of major metro areas, and median home prices have risen 7.8 percent during the last 12 months.

Rounding out the top five is Dallas, having added 20,000 new jobs in the past two months—total employment has increased 4.5 percent in the last year—and home sales are at their highest level in seven years. Home prices have risen 26.4 percent in three years, 7.3 percent in the last year alone. It should be noted that two of the top five are in Texas, which has consistently been the top shipment state for manufactured homes since the production recovery began in August, 2011. ##

(Graphic credit: auction.com/housingwire)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com  Article submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

San Antonio Mission Trails MH Park Closure deadline looms

January 9th, 2015 Comments off

2015-01-09_0458mission-trails-mobile-home-park-closure-ksat12-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-The deadline for the closure of Mission Trails is January 15, but for the 6 households still living at the property, it looks possible one or more may miss that deadline.

As previously reported here, the San Antonio City Council voted last May for a plan that would close the Mission Trails Mobile Home Park property and make way for a mixed-use development on that location.

KSAT12  tells MHProNews  that: Onegra Perez is one of the remaining residents. Perez said she hasn’t been able to move her family, lacking the resources to do so.

I would like to be able to relocate to a place where I’m safe,” said Perez. “Where I can raise my children in a safe and stable way.”

One of the posted comments on the KSAT website by ‘KHI’ reads, “From the picture of these very dilapidated structures and trash all over the ground – how can anyone raise a family there?” ‘SAKnows’ posted, “This was a ghetto and the city should have inspected it years ago.”

Not only are home owners impacted by conditions in a land-lease community, but so too is the image of the industry at large. While a headline grabbing media often lacks the right stuff to provide a balanced report, investors and manufactured housing professionals have the opportunity to turn such ‘black eye’ local stories into victories for all, given the right approaches.

While it doesn’t catch mainstream media headlines often enough, there are good thousands of manufactured home communities done right. One of many examples of smart approaches that are good for residents and good for business are highlighted in the interview with Gary McDaniel of Yes! Communities, found at the link on his name. ##

Related article, Negative images of manufactured housing in the media, do we just accept it

(Photo credit: KSAT12)

Gentrification and Community Closure playing out

December 3rd, 2014 Comments off

texas-mission-hills-mobile-home-park-san-antone-mary-tuma-sacurrent-credit-posted-mhpronews-Gentrification has become a hot topic in many parts of the U.S.. MHProNews   took a look at the issue as it’s playing out for residents in a manufactured home community (MHC) in San Antonio.

New residents coming to downtown are a welcome sight to local businesses. So a planned mixed use development coming to the area is welcome, but it is coming at the cost of the homes for those in a south side MHC that is set to be closed.

Former mayor, Julian Castro – who has since become Secretory for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – called for a task force of civic leaders and council members to examine the issue of gentrification and how its impact can best be handled. This, mySA says, followed the controversial decision to close a MH Community, which forces the removal of hundreds of families.

Brenda Reyna, says the ExpressNews, spent years several thousands on a three-bedroom home for her son and daughter in the Mission Trails community on the South Side. “This is my neighborhood for many years,” she said in Spanish.

The City Council rezoned the property last May so a $75 million, high-end mixed-use development, that will include 400 apartments.

Part of the plan would call for a guaranteed sum to those displaced. Staffers are looking at how other cities have dealt with similar issues, looking for options. They’re considering low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), zoning incentives and a bond election to help fund projects, including affordable housing.

For those moving out early, a $2500 incentive was offered by the developer. Nicole Elizalde Henning, an attorney working on behalf of Mission Trails residents, criticized the developer White-Conlee and the seller, American Family Communities.

Economic improvements and answers to how funds are distributed so they “benefit the current residents as well as future residents coming in,” are being reviewed, said Rod Radle, a member of the task force and former executive director of San Antonio Alternative Housing Corp. “I think anyplace where you don’t have a public policy in place that encourages mixed-income development, you will have potential for problems.

Redevelopment using aging manufactured home communities – often referred to as ‘mobile home parks’ – has been taking place for some years in much of the U.S.. Some estimates are that over 5,000 MHCs have closed since 2000 nationally, often in favor of redevelopment for commercial or residential use.

For a prior report earlier into the action leading to the closure of this community, click here. ##

(Photo credit: SA Current)

joseine-josie-thompson-writer-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com50x50-Article submitted by Josie Thompson to – Daily Business News – MHProNews  

Nominee to Head HUD Testifies before Senate Banking Committee

June 20th, 2014 Comments off

Julian Castro, current mayor of San Antonio and President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was grilled during his Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing about cities using eminent domain to condemn mortgages by Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), according to nationalmortgagenews.com. When Sen. Toomey asked Castro point blank if he would prevent the FHA (Federal Housing Adminstration) from utilizing this method, Castro, dodging the question, replied he would consult with the committee before taking a definite stance. He said he understands the concerns of mortgage lenders, but also, as a mayor of a large city, “I can understand why communities with a whole lot of folks underwater might think of this method.” He reminded the senator this method has yet to be used although it has engendered litigation.

On other topics the atmosphere was more amenable: He supports the senators efforts to strengthen the FHA’s mortgage insurance program as well as to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and, as MHProNews has learned, Castro wants the FHA to support homeownership opportunities for first-time home buyers and those of modest means. He also assured Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), “I share with you a commitment to ensuring that the FHA has a positive capital reserve ratio. It is on the right track and it does not need another mandatory appropriation,” in reference to the $1.7 billion government bailout. ##

(Image credit: U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Mayor Julian Castro to Lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off

President Barack Obama is moving Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donavan to be the Budget Director, and will nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to replace him. Now in his third term as mayor, Castro has focused on revitalizing the city’s urban core through a series of incentives to encourage inner city investment, according to politics.suntimes.com. Having earned a law degree from Harvard University in 2000, he set up a law practice in San Antonio and served on the city council for two terms. Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says Castro has done more than anyone in addressing the city’s housing needs, as MHProNews.com has learned from sfgate.com. Palomarez says, “With great consistency, Mayor Castro has set aside political partisanship in the name of good policy decision making. We hope his confirmation process will proceed with that same collaborative spirit.” Donovan is replacing Sylvia Mathews Burwell who is moving to head the Department of Health and Human Services. ##

(Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Manufactured Home Community Set to be Repurposed

May 2nd, 2014 Comments off

Mission Trails Mobile Home Park in San Antonio, Texas may be closed to make way for a $75 million luxury riverfront apartment development, displacing some 200 residents who complain they discovered by accident about the possible sale and rezoning of their community when a resident happened to spot a rezoning notice posted on the property and promptly called the city. That happened three days before the issue appeared on the zoning commission agenda. Landlord American Family Communities is seeking to rezone the property for commercial and multifamily use, according to sacurrent.com. Under Texas law, the city is required to notify the landowner of a zoning change, not residents.

Since the issue was brought to the community’s attention, resulting in many advocates attending city council and zoning meetings on behalf of the residents, the zoning commission denied the motion March 18, by a 5-2 vote. Following a city council meeting April 17 attended by scores of residents, the council decided to put off a final vote until May 15, MHProNews.com has learned. The developer has agreed to subsidize moving expenses and hookup fees when transitioning residents to other manufactured housing communities and will provide $2,000 to residents with homes too dilapidated to relocate. While there is talk among the residents of buying the property cooperatively, many feel the developers will win out. ##

(Photo credit: Mary Tuma/sacurrent.com–Mission Hills Mobile Home Park, San Antonio)