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Weaponized News Spotlight – HUD, MHARR and Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)

October 25th, 2018

 

ManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHILogoManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReformMHARRlogoHUDLogoMHproNewsFactCheck

On October 17, 2018, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) each sent out a separate News & Updates to their readers and members. NOTICE: if anyone spots any factual error in this report, please notify us immediately. Thank you.

 

A subject in MHI’s update was the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Manufactured Housing Program (OMHP) position on the controversial frost-free foundation interpretative bulletin (IB).

That frost-free foundation IB was originally issued during the tenure of Pam Danner, JD.  The record reflects Danner was opposed by MHARR for her role. But after an initial internal flurry, Danner was embraced, put on stage, and was arguably de facto defended for some years by MHI.

 

pam-danner-hud-code-manufactured-housing-program-administrator-mhi-2014-summer-meeting-indianapolis-in-alexander-hotel-(c)2014-mhpronews-com-

Pam Danner, JD, prior HUD Code Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP) Administrator, credit, MHProNews.

 

The focus for this post today is accountability for the accuracy of information being shared by the two national associations – MHI and MHARR – each of which represents a unique constituency, but the views of both of which are followed by thousands of manufactured housing professionals. While a new national communities association is emerging, at this time, only MHARR is based in Washington, D.C. MHI is based in the D.C. metro, across the Potomac River, in Arlington, VA.

It is common for associations to claim credit for what can be posited to manufactured housing industry professional readers as an accomplishment.  It is also common for both national associations –  MHI and MHARR – to position themselves to their readers and members as ‘fighting’ for or ‘representing’ the interests of manufactured housing industry companies.

That fight against burdensome regulations is an obvious reason for the existence of any trade group.  It may or may not be the sole reason for a trade organization’s existence, but it is a critical one.

Cutting to the heart of the issue, HUD, not long after MHI and MHARR issued their statements on the frost free IB, sent MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss, JD, an email that was also addressed to Lesli Gooch, Ph.D., SVP at MHI.

That email from HUD’s Teresa Payne – shown further below – clarified to both trade groups what was explained as a misunderstanding of HUD’s position on the frost free IB rule.

That same day, MHARR sent out a correction to their members and readers.  That correction from MHARR is found at the link below.  Their correction, it should be noted, also contains the email from OMHP’s Teresa Payne to Weiss and Gooch. That’s transparency.

 

HUD “Clarification” on Frost-Free IB Offers More Questions and Confusion Than Answers

 

It has now been about a week since MHI’s email, shown below.  There is no correction, per our sources, that has been issued to their readers.

 

ManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHIlogoNewsUpdateMHProNews760

 

Why no correction from MHI?

MHARR has a fraction of the staff and budget of MHI.  But they managed to get out the same day their correction.  A week later, MHI has not yet acknowledged their error.  That’s not to say that it was the only error in the MHI messaging that day from MHI.  But this Daily Business News report is keeping very focused on this one, simple example.

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MHARR has a long history of, as their staff has periodically expressed, “sticking to the facts” as they know it.

By contrast, as MHProNews has periodically spotlighted for some years, MHI has at times spun or ‘weaponized’ their news.  See related reports, further below for an example. In each case, weaponizing news is with the purported purpose of making themselves – MHI – look good to their readers on whatever the subject happens to be.

Our publisher, following a news tip about 3 years ago from an MHI member, after investigating the claim from the source, called for the termination or resignation of MHI President Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and SVP Lesli Gooch for a blatant case of spin and misleading news to their members. Off-the-radar efforts had failed, as the linked report noted.

That op-ed was in relation to MHI’s signature issue, a report by them to their members on the CFPB regulations of manufactured housing financing. Recall that MHI’s bill, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (Preserving Access), was their focus for several years.  All of it was aimed at the CFPB’s regulations of manufactured home lending, specifically the MLO rules, points and fees.

At that time of that call by our publisher for Jennison and Gooch to step down, our publication and parent company were still members of MHI. At that time, our publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach sat on the Suppliers Division board, as an elected member of that MHI board.

MHProNews and MHLivingNews had for years both supported Preserving Access.  Tim Williams, then MHI Chairman, had said in writing that there was ‘no daylight’ between MHI and MHProNews in that effort.

 

Misleading the Industry…

That said, MHProNews did not condone or support deliberately false or misleading information to the industry’s members about MHI’s efforts with the CFPB or Congress. Or on any other subject, for that matter.

If the trade body that claims to represent the interests of all of factory-built housing – MHI – can’t be trusted to communicate facts clearly and honestly, what can it be counted on for in their messaging?  Is spin, deceptive or weaponized ‘news’ acceptable to them? To their members?  Do industry members want the truth, lies, or spin from an industry trade group?

As our report last night about Apple’s Tim Cook reflects, reveals that weaponized information is not limited to our industry.  Large segments of the mainstream media, government, and tech, have arguably been doing that for years.  MHProNews alone has done reports on those issues in MH trade media, to reflect the reality that it isn’t just manufactured housing that struggles with the challenge of what is true, and what is spin, or worse.  One of several such reports are linked below, ICYMI or need a refresher on the important topic.

 

“The Creepy Line” Video DocuDrama, Manufactured Housing – The Problem, Solution, and You

 

But the fact that

  • deception,
  • misleading information, or
  • spin beyond the point of accuracy and the like is common doesn’t make it okay for MHI, or anyone else, to do the same.

Our insider sources at MHI have reminded MHProNews recently of the obvious.  That the MHI staff takes their marching orders from the ‘elected’ MHI Executive Committee. The handling of those ‘elections’ is a separate exposé, for another time. The point for the moment is that MHI staff don’t do what they aren’t told or allowed to do.

Suffice it to say what MHI award-winner Marty Lavin and others have for some time. That MHI represents the interests of the industry’s “big boys.”  That pattern is frankly not new to the Clayton Homes/Berkshire Hathaway domination of MHI era.

But how raw power over MHI – and through them directly, and/or via numerous state associations too – is being exercised during the Berkshire Hathaway era of MHI is of keen interest to every single operation in the HUD Code manufactured home industry.  It matters to others beyond the industry too.  RE: state associations, the related report about How Gold Rules is must reading.

As a result of the Jennison/Gooch bruhaha linked above, MHProNews began some time ago began to do more careful fact checking of MHI.  That incident with Lesli Gooch’s message back then, which sources say had to be okayed by Dick Jennison. Time and again, MHI has been caught by this publication with weaponizing or spinning their ‘news.’ It is rare for MHI to admit an error in writing.  It is also rare when they admit that they have been forced by revelations to change their position.

 

Frost Free IB – Important

The frost free IB is an important topic for retailers, communities, service and installation operations, and thus to producers of HUD Code homes who supply them.  This is just the latest example of how MHI purportedly plays with or ignores the facts, in this and other cases.

If something is an error, or a one-time thing, it could easily be forgiven. But to repeatedly, over the course of several years, to have numerous examples of how MHI have purportedly misled or failed to properly inform their members, is that as so easily excused?  Do industry members want to be lied to, misled, or deceived?

As a footnote, neither MHARR nor MHI knew that this report was going to be done ever, much less, today.  We waited a week to see what, if anything, MHI would do with the correction from HUD. As MHI may have learned, we at MHProNews take our marching-orders from no one.  As a matter of policy, we follow facts, evidence, and use reason in the search of the issues that keep manufactured housing from achieving its true potential.

A screen capture of HUD’s email is shown below.

EmailfromTeresaPayneHUDtoMarkWeissMHARRLesliGoochMHIDailyBusinessNewsMHproNews

Who can you trust with association-based news from the national level?

2018-10-25_0724ManufacturedHousingWeaponizedNewsByManufacturedHousingInstituteDailyBusinessNEwsMHProNews

These are the MHI emails before and since Oct 17th, 2018. There could be companies that act upon what MHI has told them, which could prove costly. HUD clarified the issue. Why didn’t MHI pass along the clarification, just as MHARR did?

 

Sadly, some of the changes in how we’ve reported industry news in the last 2 years has been sparked by the realization over time that MHI has to be fact-checked. That they too must be held accountable for telling the truth. Who else is telling the industry’s independents the various ways that MHI, or others, attempt to mislead manufactured housing industry professionals, investors, and other readers?

If there is a factual error anywhere in this report, MHProNews hereby invites corrections from any or all parties. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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