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“Game On” – “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning” “Moral Obligation” Fix “Worsening Nightmare” – State Associations Entering Spotlight

May 25th, 2019 Comments off

 

GameOnFightingDiscriminatoryZonginMoralObligationFixWorseningNightmarestateAssociationsEnteringSpotlightMHProNews

Nature abhors a vacuum.

 

That axiom is true in science, as well as in issues of pragmatic leadership.

In a communique to the manufactured housing industry’s dozens of state association executives, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) outlined their plan to address the “moral obligation” to fix the “worsening nightmare” of “discriminatory zoning.”

The memo was described by one MHEC-connected source as “a shot across the bow” of the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). MHEC is the Manufactured Housing Executives Council (MHEC), which includes most, if not all, manufactured housing state associations.

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MHI, MHARR, MHEC logos, are each the property of their respective association, and are shown here under fair use guidelines.

That same source said that the shot missed the bow and landed on the deck of MHI’s battleship.

It’s game on,” said that pro-industry growth source. “The outrage of MHI’s power-brokers keeping the industry at a historically low ebb for over 15 years isn’t over.  But if MHARR is as serious as they appear to be, this represents a challenge to the behind the scenes efforts to artificially suppress and slow manufactured housing sales growth unlike anything I’ve seen in years.”

Per MHEC sources, there are ‘several’ states that have reached out to the Washington, D.C. based MHARR about their memo.  MHARR has not yet issued a follow-up or added details to their communique.  When asked, they would not characterize the responses at this time.

 

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A Key Issue, Alongside Financing, Regulatory Overreach…

 Tony, as I’m sure you know, not everyone is comfortable with how ‘in your face’ some of your [MHProNews] reports have been,” said a message to MHProNews.  That message continued, “However, between what MHARR has laid out, and what your publications [MHProNews/MHLivingNews] have hammered home in recent months, there is a degree of clarity that some [state] executives and other industry members have lacked on why the industry has underperformed to the degree that it has. I’m not making predictions, because 21st and Clayton still have the raw power that report of yours [re: How Gold Rules] spelled out.  But your reports on the Mobile Home Militia, the expansionary moves by Legacy Housing, and others independents in the industry that reflect serious, committed resistance are perhaps giving some more confidence to others in the industry to test the waters of resistance too. While some will still likely sell out, some of us [executives] don’t want to see a lot more independents vanish. This MHARR initiative can help in that regard.  If states and MHARR work together on this initiative, it can make a difference and help return serious growth to the industry.”

Notice: the links were edited into the above, and were not in the original.  As longtime readers know, we turn quoted text bold and brown, to make it pop. Bracketed comments are added for clarity, but otherwise, the comments are as stated.  For newcomers, investors, and researchers, it is useful to understand that even MHI members – in their own investor relations package – make it clear that the industry is underperforming. The graphic below is an example of that, from an MHI member firm.  Comments in red and yellow are by MHProNews, but the original graphic and the trend line of 224,000 annual shipments a year are from that MHI member company.

 

3ErasMobileHomesManufacturedHomesManufacturedHousingImprovementActEraSkylineChampionShipmentProductionGraphicMHProNews

In 1998, manufactured homes (MH) outsold RVs by some 3 to 2. In 2017, RVs outsold MHs by some 5 to 1. RVs recovered far more quickly from 2008. The facts raise questions. One, is the effectiveness of MHI as the post-production or ‘umbrella’ association in the country. The other question is more sobering. Has Buffett-Berkshire “Moat” strategies kept manufactured home production at historically low levels to allow a few big boy brands to consolidate others at a discounted ‘value’ by MHI insiders?

MHARR’s full statement is available at the linked text-image box below, as well as here on MHProNews beneath that.

 

MHARR Launches “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning Mandates” Manufactured Housing Project

 

 

May 14, 2019

 

VIA E-MAIL

To: MANUFACTURED HOUSING STATE ASSOCIATION STAFF EXECUTIVES

Re:  MHARR’s “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning Mandates” Project 

Dear Friends:

As you know, the utilization and placement of federally-regulated manufactured homes in large areas of the United States is either excluded or discriminatorily restricted by local zoning mandates. These mandates have drastically limited affordable housing opportunities for millions of lower and moderate-income Americans, while unfairly burdening and restricting the growth and expansion potential of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry. The same mandates also constitute a direct impediment to the accomplishment of the most important and fundamental statutory objective of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, which seeks to “facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes and … increase homeownership for all Americans.”

While many of you and your respective associations have done your utmost to address and resolve such injustices within your individual states, the absence of a collective, organized and aggressive national effort to confront and eliminate these discriminatory zoning and placement mandates has — and will continue — to take a heavy toll on both our industry and consumers of affordable housing. Indeed, with the industry’s hard-working manufacturers, retailers and communities producing and offering their best homes ever, the aggressive application of the legislative mandates contained in the 2000 reform law to challenge, oppose and correct this long-standing and worsening nightmare for the industry and its consumers, is no longer an option, but a moral obligation for all who seek to advance the industry and its products.

Based on all of this, the MHARR Board of Directors, at its March 27, 2019 meeting, carefully considered the extremely detrimental impact of such discriminatory zoning and placement mandates. And, given the absence of an independent, unbiased, objective, national representative for the industry’s post-production sector, the Board ultimately concluded that action would be necessary by MHARR – in cooperation with as many state associations as appropriate and warranted — to take the lead in addressing this zoning and placement crisis; thus the establishment of this “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning Mandates” project.

Now, therefore, MHARR, with your help and assistance, will begin to gather information from around the United States regarding the nature, extent and specific impact of such discriminatory mandates, and take action, as appropriate, within its sole discretion, designed to either eliminate or ameliorate specific, selected discriminatory mandates based on as much accurate and factual information as can reasonably be collected.

For these reasons, MHARR now seeks input and information from you, regarding the existence of specific and particularly egregious discriminatory local exclusions and/or restrictions on the siting and/or placement of both individual manufactured homes on privately-owned land and manufactured home communities within your state, for information-gathering, analysis, evaluation and potential follow-up by the Association, including possible litigation, if so determined by MHARR in its sole discretion. Through this initial process, MHARR seeks to gather information targeting a total of approximately one-dozen of the most egregious cases in various states where federally-regulated manufactured homes have either been excluded altogether or discriminatorily restricted by local ordinances.

As for the legal aspects and related costs of subsequent phases of this project, MHARR has – and continues to maintain — that the enhanced federal preemption provision of the 2000 reform law provides the industry with the opportunity to target the two most egregious available cases (i.e., a single home on privately-owned land and a land-lease community) to be challenged and pursued, if necessary, to the Supreme Court, as appropriate and necessary.  By taking this action for the first time under the specific enhanced preemption provision of the 2000 reform law, that case, if won on the merits, would establish the needed precedent to challenge other similar instances of discriminatory exclusion. Needless to say, however, this would be a costly undertaking.  Following the initial phase, therefore, MHARR would consult with the selected landowner/developer and state association involved, to determine and establish specific logistics for the legal aspects of the following phases and relevant costs of the project, and would do the same for the selected landowner and state association in the single home on privately-owned lot case.

Consequently, we ask that you consult with your Association’s Board on this matter and, within the next thirty-days — and utilizing the attached self-explanatory and easy-to-use forms — provide feedback to MHARR regarding local-level ordinances that impose either an outright exclusion of HUD Code manufactured homes or restrictions that discriminate against HUD Code homes. More specifically, MHARR seeks, from each state, the two most egregious examples of such exclusionary and/or discriminatory mandates within that state – one involving the development, placement, expansion, or redevelopment of a manufactured housing land-lease community, and one involving individual home placements on privately-owned land. MHARR, will then follow-up as it determines to be appropriate and prudent, and will share its findings with participating state associations as the project moves forward.

MHARR thanks you in advance for your cooperation and assistance in this crucial undertaking for both the industry and its consumers.

 

Sincerely,

John Bostick                                                                 Mark Weiss

MHARR Chairman                                      MHARR President & CEO

 

cc: MHARR Members

Manufactured Housing Retailers, Communities and Finance Companies

Attachments

###

 

This is part of an effort that was announced by MHARR shortly after the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show in March, 2019.

 

MHARR Board Holds Highly Productive Meeting — Adopts Bold New Initiatives

 

Following that meeting, MHARR formally requested that HUD initiate a new study to research discriminatory zoning and its impact on manufactured housing.

 

HUD Study, Analysis of Zoning Discrimination Against Manufactured Housing Sought

 

MHARR’s President and CEO, Mark Weiss, JD, then authored an “Issues and Perspective” that essentially challenged MHI to do the job they claimed to do, or get out of the way and let MHARR do it.

 

“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”

 

In response to that, MHI did nothing directly.  But sources and evidence indicate that purported MHI surrogate George F. Allen ‘attacked’ MHARR’s initiative on his blog. Why would Allen, who claims to want to see the industry return to greatness, attack an effort aimed at accomplishing precisely that launched by MHARR? Thus, MHProNews did a fact check on Allen’s attack, at the link below.

 

George F. Allen’s Unity Call for MHI, MHARR, and National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) Examined

 

Allen’s purported role as MHI’s ‘attack dog’ was further evidenced in the report that can be accessed by industry readers by clicking on the text-image box below.

 

Joe Stegmayer, George F. Allen, Manufactured Housing Institute Slogans, Slump, Slurs, Solutions

 

Then, our publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach laid out a detailed review of how George Allen himself publicly called Clayton Homes and other Berkshire Hathaway brands operating in manufactured housing as part of a growing monopolization of the industry.  Allen did so on his own blog, see that report with the evidence and illustrations, linked below.

 

“Monopoly” in Manufactured Housing Alleged by George Allen, MHI Defender’s Turn by former Community-Investor, Self-Claimed EducateMHC Blogger

 

MHI, Allen, and the MHInsider are apparently working in concert with Berkshire Hathaway brands to distract the industry’s members from ploys that are arguably occurring that aim to create headwinds for manufactured housing independents.  Is there evidence?  Check it out for yourself.

 

Kobayashi Maru, Crime, Kevin Clayton, Darren Krolewski, MHInsider – State of Manufactured Housing Industry

 

Our publisher laid out a details case for how MHI, backed by Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, et al, used the “Rope-a-Dope” to wear out independents in the battle for Preserving Access, which never passed.  Several MHI members are quoted in that report.

 

Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You

 

 

Neither the powers that be behind MHI, nor MHI’s outside attorney would not respond to the varied allegations against MHI, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Nathan Smith, and others in a scheme to monopolize the market, in a way that Allen himself claimed was occurring.

Rather than respond to specific concerns and credible evidence, MHI’s outside attorney threatened MHProNews with legal action, pointing to items in articles we’ve published. MHProNews has challenged them on their legal claims, and asked them to respond.  MHI’s outside attorney, which has an office in Nathan Smith’s home town, has not yet responded to the meat of the concerns.

 

Lanham Act, Monopolistic Housing Institute, err, Manufactured Housing Institute, Legal Bullies, and You

 

 

MHI’s outside attorney has claimed that there is no connection between themselves and Nathan Smith, former MHI chairman and a partner in scandal plagued SKK Communities.  But frankly, that’s a nuance, a detail either way.  Isn’t the bigger issue – why hasn’t MHI hired an attorney to sue cities that are violating the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?  Why isn’t MHI doing what MHARR has begun to undertake?

 

 

Nathan Smith, SSK Communities, Manufactured Housing Institute Leader, Profitably Correcting the Record

 

MHI’s Rick Robinson had an opportunity to discuss issues face to face with MHProNews publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach in Deadwood, SD.  He declined publicly, in front of dozens of industry members as witnesses.

RickRobinsonManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIDailyBuisnessNewsMHProNews

Robinson – an attorney and MHI’s general counsel – personally knows an aspect of the law that might be useful to fight discriminatory zoning. Why hasn’t he put that to work himself, or done so with MHI’s outside attorney?

 

MHI’s Growth Agenda? Rick Robinson, JD, SVP Manufactured Housing Institute, Preemption Evidence, Writ of Mandamus, and Addressing HUD Code Manufactured Home Shipment Woes

OccamsRazorDefinedManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

There are several potential explanations for MHI’s failure to engage on issues that their own mission statement and IRS form 990s claim that they are supposed to be focused upon. For example: 1) They are incompetent. 2) They lack intelligence. 3) They lack motivation. 4) They have an unstated agenda. 5) They want to see the industry grow slowly and/or shrink, so that more companies close or sell out to major companies. These are a few of the logical options. MHProNews editorially believes that the people at MHI are intelligent enough, so what logical conclusions are left? Among others, it was longtime MHI member George Allen who said that they are working to monopolize the industry into a few hands.

MHCommunitiesOfAZNealTHaneyPresidentWhyTheyQuitManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews600

MHI, the Berkshire brands operating out of the Knoxville, TN metro area, and their outside attorney have been invited to debunk, refute, or otherwise respond in writing or in public to the mounting evidence and allegations against them.  So far, silence, which is their constitutionally protected 5th Amendment protected right. But in the meantime, there is evidence that Warren Buffett’s money has been donated to other nonprofits that have fought the industry publicly on issues that debatably have harmed the image and thus the sales of the industry.

 

Prosperity Now, Nonprofits Sustain John Oliver’s “Mobile Homes” Video in Their Reports

 

That’s a snapshot of research and action plans vs. posturing, fig leaves, and sloganeering by the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis.

Its your industry.  This is your future. If you are a member of a state association, why not ask them if your state plans to participate in this MHARR initiative?

Zoning and financing are two key issues.  What has MHI done to fix them?  Yet it is there own claimed role to do what they’re arguably failing to do.

ManufacturedHousingInstituteMHILogoPhotoOnlyTradeOrganizationrepresentingallsegmentsfactorybuilthousing2019-05-14_0808

Then contrast that to the ongoing efforts – like the removal of Pam Danner at HUD – and steady, reliable reports and warnings by MHARR.

MarkWeissDTSQuoteManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReformMHARRDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

Allen has pointed out the obvious, that MHARR is a sponsor of our website. But that’s out in the open, MHARR has banner ads here. What Allen fails to mention is that MHI used to sponsor MHProNews too. Our coverage has been based upon our LLC’s own research and work, without favor.

That’s this Saturday’s edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”