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McCrory Lawsuit – “Significant Victory Against Zoning Discrimination” – Manufactured Homes

November 30th, 2017 No comments

The McCrory lawsuit is a significant victory against zoning discrimination that many working families in Arkansas face from cities and towns when they attempt to place a factory-built dwelling unit in a territorial jurisdiction governed by municipal ordinances and regulations.

Although federal regulation preempts cities from out-and-out discrimination against units built in compliance with the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards – the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been hesitant to enforce the ‘enhanced preemption’ granted in the MHIA of 2000 – –  or even the Department’s own ‘preemption policy’ or statement of ‘internal guidance’ on local zoning matters.

And, even though state law in Arkansas prohibits cities from totally banning manufactured/modular home placements; restricting them only to rented lots in ‘parks’; or setting conditions/restrictions that are dissimilar to those for ‘site-built units’ – a number of cities still attempt to unduly restrict MH placements due to unsubstantiated fears of plummeting property values and ‘undesirables’ that their decisions-makers fear will inhabit such domiciles.

ZoningDiscriminationAgainstManufaturedHomeJDHarperExecuitveDirectorArkansasManufacturedHousingAssociationAMHAlogoIndustryVoicesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

We hope this decision will cause city leaders to consider other, non-arbitrary factors when making decisions about home placement within their towns.

When our organization is allowed to provide advice to cities on how to address the placement of factory-built units within their boundaries – we always caution against arbitrary restrictions (i.e. home value, age, etc.) that would determine if a home would be allowed.

Several tiny cities around McCrory had enacted similar restrictions, and have made changes to their ordinances in response to this lawsuit.

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The McCrory settlement was obtained by  Equal Justice Under Law,  a civil rights organization. The case will be the subject of a Daily Business News report. The headline and these graphics were provided by MHProNews, as is customary in trade media and other forms of journalism. The text comments were sent by JD Harper to MHProNews for publication. Other perspectives, comments, and news tips are welcomed. Send to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com with a bold subject line that says NEWS TIP or LETTER TO EDITOR, thank you.

If decision-makers in cities [particularly smaller towns] would take a look at today’s manufactured housing – instead of relying on outdated images, preconceived notions, and the myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that seem to be inextricably linked to this product – I believe they would find it relatively simple to develop ordinances and regulations that would allow the regulated placement of factory-built structures on individual lots and in multi-site developments in a manner that would encourage affordable housing growth.

The McCrory settlement is just another arrow in the quiver to use when city leaders attempt to discriminate against people who might not make as much money as the members of the planning commission or city council – or at least don’t want to spend more for a site-built home. ##

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By JD Harper
AMHA

Harper – Thank You Rev Donald Tye, Fighting for Enhanced Preemption of Manufactured Homes

July 28th, 2017 No comments

Tony,
I’ve been meaning to take a moment for a couple of weeks now, to send you this message. I apologize for mixing subjects, but – in the end – I believe you’ll find that all these topics relate to one another.

1)    Thank you for your direct question to HUD’s Pam Danner about the City of Kilgore’s plans to further limit the placement of manufactured homes in that city.  I’ve repeatedly questioned why HUD and the administrator’s Office of Manufactured Housing Programs hasn’t acknowledged that preemption was significantly enhanced by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA of 2000).

2)   Several of Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.’s comments which you published brought back memories of an MHI Land Use Conference held in Chicago in the late 90’s.  I remember a speaker at that event – a middle-aged black gentleman, who was (I believe) a member of the Illinois General Assembly.  He coined a term for the discrimination by local governments against many forms of affordable housing, particularly manufactured home placements.

That speaker called it “economic racism.”

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Collage credit, MHProNews.com – this and the headline are provided by the publisher, as is customary with Op-Eds. The statements are those of the writer.

I’ve thought about the power in that statement many times since that meeting, knowing that he had lived-through the Civil Rights movement.

I’ve spent countless evenings in municipal buildings made of cinder-blocks with bad fluorescent lighting. I’d attend meetings, ‘waging a seemingly-endless war on ignorance’ about our affordable homes (and the people who live in our product) with local decision-makers over the past quarter-century.

So, I appreciate and agree with Rev. Tye’s powerful comments.

3)    In conclusion, I believe many in our society view manufactured housing as some sort of ‘housing of last resort’ for:

  • poor people,
  • illegal immigrants,
  • rednecks,
  • divorcees on public assistance and
  • other undesirable elements of the population.

It’s a stereotype/stigma perpetuated by the media which creates and/or re-enforces barriers to the acceptance, and highest use, of manufactured homes as an affordable housing resource.

I remember a small-town mayor telling me – ‘off the record’ of course – his perspective on inclusionary zoning in his city: “It ain’t the houses, son… It’s the people that live in them.” ##  (Publisher’s note: see the graphic, and link below on Rev. Donald Tye Jr.)

JDHarperExecutiveDirectorArkansasManufacturedHousingAssocPostedMHProNews

 

J.D. Harper
Executive Director
Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association (AMHA)
1123 South University – Suite #720
Little Rock, AR 72204

 

 

 

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Click the image above to see one of the articles and topics that these quotes from Tye come from.

 

 

Manufactured Home Communities – aka “Mobile Home Park” – Closures – Viewpoint by Marty Lavin

April 23rd, 2017 No comments

As with many things in life, the matter of park closings is highly complicated with few easy answers.

Probably the best answer is to allow the park residents the option to purchase the property. Not fool proof, but meets the burden of the failure of the park owner to allow residents to maintain the perpetual rental of space for their home, which is implicit in buying a home in the property.

When most (manufactured home community residents) buy a home in the property, rarely if ever is he handed a notice that the community could be closed on short notice, their only relief being whatever measure their state or city has for park closings. Most residents rarely consider park closings as a threat till the specter arrives.

On the other hand, in a capitalist nation we still behave in some areas as though the park owners have no legal responsibility to allow the residents to stay, and can sell the property to others at will, and empty the community with little hindrance or concern, again, subject to whatever relevant laws control the closing.

I have been surprised in areas where park closings are common that authorities do not compel a statement be given in writing as part of the move-in process alerting the new resident of the right of the park owner to sell or close the community and what compensation, if any, is available to the resident on closing.

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Headlines and these graphic are provided by MHProNews, as is customary with many in media.

I’m also wondering, but not enough to research the subject, whether upon notice of closing, residents should get an attorney to plead their case that the park owner allowed them to have a home in the park, often encouraging their entry, knew or had reason to know most people would get a long term mortgage to purchase their home. Often at closure, many years mortgage term remain unpaid. It is here the lender gets the downside loss, and is not particularly beneficial for the home owner.

Remember, it is not unusual that when the home must be moved or resold because of a closing, the stars do not line up well for the home owner. First, the home must be moved, there as a cost of moving and the difficulty of finding a lot to accommodate the home. Quite a hand full, usually not ending well, unless the state laws give some protection to the resident. The process is pretty destructive of our financially fragile customer base.

Frankly, this mercenary park closing without adequate compensation for the resident is morally wrong if not legally. It does no credit to the industry that so much of this happens.

Meanwhile, I was amused that people are forming groups to try to save endangered parks to keep them open.

I wondered where these folks were in the 1970s when I was doing park development zoning in the north east.

At virtually every meeting, the facility used had to be upgraded to the school gym to handle all the attendees. All seem to me to be carrying tar and feathers and had mean looks in their eyes. How many parks could have been built to accommodate the demand had there been far less resistance? Who knows, but far more. And it continues even today.

I guess that train has passed, but the California boys being pretty bright, I’m sure they are still trying to build parks in less expensive land areas. How is that going? ##

(Editor’s Note: The commentary above is in response to the mainstream media article, linked here. Lavin is the winner of MHI’s Totaro Award for his lifetime contributions in financing, was a mobile and manufactured home retailer, as well as  an owner/operator of manufactured home communities.  Some of Lavin’s other insightful, popular commenataries are linked below.)

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Photo from Mary Lavin, Esq.

MARTIN (Marty) LAVIN
Att’y, Consultant, Expert Witness
in Manufactured Housing.
350 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05401
802.238.7777

 

Recent, also by Marty Lavin:

http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/industryvoices/not-enough-hunger/

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http://www.MHProNews.com/blogs/industryvoices/deja-vu-again-a-new-manufactured-housing-institute-mhi-initiative/

NPR’s Syringa Mobile Home Park Story, Revisited by Community Owner

January 23rd, 2017 No comments

In the NPR story, the blame is on the community owner, tenants, county, and state.  This failure is across-the-board and does not represent the industry as whole, but is a growing problem that needs to be addressed when communities are used for investment purposes by those who don’t know what they are doing.

  • There is no excuse for the manufactured home community owners’ absence in managing his property.
    • Public utilities and infrastructure needs to be addressed.
    • It should be noted that with old infrastructure, you are going to have water line breaks and rare system failures. Many can be avoided, but some can be unknowable in advance.  Redundancy and daily inspections help prevent system failures.
    • The owner may not have the revenue to repair systems, and may need to tap utilities into local public water and wastewater systems.
  • Where is the tenant accountability?  Homes are personal property (unless units are rentals), and there is trash and debris everywhere in the photos from Syringa Mobile Home Park, in Moscow, ID.
  • Judging by the state of a many of the homes in the photos; they should be repaired, demoed, and/or replaced.  By allowing the living conditions to exist, the owner becomes part of the problem.
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Image credit, MHProNews. The headline and image are provided by the editor.

  • If homes are being left and are personal property, the county should be responsible with the community owner/tenant to remove homes. ##
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Tom Fath, co-owner, New Durham Estates.

Tom Fath | Operations Manager
New Durham Estates and Home Sales

About Government Forcing Manufactured Home Communities to Pay for Amenities

October 18th, 2016 No comments

I received your email on the article that highlighted the amenities package on which the counsel person in Austin was planning to introduce legislation. It was an interesting concept and one that may be a little misplaced.

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Editor’s note: the image collage above is by MHProNews, and was not part of the guest writer’s article or commentary. This is provided for those who are not familiar with this operation, and thus enhances the understanding of the guest writer’s commentary.

My comments on the article would be as follows:

1)      For new communities (developments):

  1. It seems to me that the amount of amenities depends largely on the clientele of the park. Nicer (4 and 5 star) communities likely already will have these amenities, so it’s a non-issue. However, lower quality (and therefore cost) communities are likely to, as you mentioned in your email, have to increase the pricing on their rent in order to accommodate the loss of rentable area and the development of the amenities.
  2. Notably, there was no talk of providing anything in the way of property tax or other tax incentives as are often done for other multifamily property types. If affordable housing is in such dire need and the council members would like them to be of higher quality (with more amenities and such), then why hasn’t the city council put their money where their mouth is and provided some incentives to bring the housing into the market?
  3. At the end of the day, this probably will have the same effect that it has had in other cities where they make the zoning and development more difficult. New developments will move out of the city and into the county where the laws are less restrictive and it allows them to provide an amenities package that is more consistent with the pricing of the product.
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Image collage and headline are by MHProNews. The link at the top of this article is a download to the topic which drew this thoughtful commentary.

2)      For existing communities:

  1. The advent of a “community garden” is probably fine with most owners as it is a smaller space and requires little to no capital investment.
  2. However, there are a number of communities in which adding that space would require taking away a home site. I would suggest that the city, again, put its money where its mouth is and purchase the lots which they would like to see a community garden or play area for 125% of appraised value since this would be, in effect, eminent domain.
  3. In purchasing the sites for play space and a garden, cities could make the argument that they are helping to keep and improve quality affordable housing while not devaluing the property for the community owners.

Those are my basic thoughts. It was an interesting article and I don’t wholly disagree with the sentiment that it would be nice to have higher quality MHCs out there. However, someone has to pay for it and considering that low income housing is in low enough supply as it is, city councils may want to be a little careful how much they burden those trying to bring the product to the market.

Thanks,

MJ

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MJ Vukovich
Vice President
Bellwether Enterprise
225 South 6th Street    |    Suite 4100    |
Minneapolis, MN 55402

 

(Editor’s Note: MJ Vukovich’s commentary is on the same topic as the comments from TMHA’s DJ Pendleton, which are linked here.  Thoughtful, original commentary on issues that impact manufactured housing professionals or our customers are welcome.)

On Aurora “Mobile Home Park” Closure, related Negative Media Coverage

September 23rd, 2016 No comments

Tony, It’s a tough situation.  The problem is that it is easier for state and local government to impose rent and/or development restrictions on mobile home parks than to assume responsibility for preserving or creating an adequate supply of affordable housing.

This is because it costs money to create affordable housing, which local governments don’t have, and it is more politically expedient to put the screws to a business owner and get favorable press for protecting a group of economically challenged homeowners.

This is unfair to the private sector and quite frankly, should be unconstitutional.

With that said, it is the responsibility of all parties to do the right thing.

A community owner shouldn’t be compelled to close a community without regard for homeowners.  The community owner should help minimize the impact by working with local government and social service agencies to identify alternative housing options.

Early in my career I had the good fortune to work with a community owner and city in Connecticut to minimize the impact of a community closing.  The community owner was willing to adjust their timeframe and financially contribute to moving residents to a new community that the city agreed to develop.  This was not an inexpensive proposition, for either party, but it was the right thing to do and it resulted in the preservation of much needed affordable housing in a high cost area.

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In Florida, we recognized the harmful impact of community closings on displaced homeowners and the industry and worked with government, homeowners and community owners to help minimize the negative impact.

The Florida Mobile Home Relocation Trust Fund is not a total solution, but it provides some relief.  The Trust Fund is funded by community owners and homeowners and provides displaced homeowners relocation assistance in the event their community closes.

Older mobile home parks will close when they become obsolete or the value of the underling land greatly exceeds its current land use.  This cannot be prevented.  However, the industry needs to be proactive to minimize the negative impact on displaced homeowners. ##

jimayottefloridamanufacturedhousingassociationfmha-industryvoices-manufacturedhousingindustrycommentary-mhpronewsJames R. Ayotte, CAE
Executive Director
Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA)
1284 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL  32312

(Editor’s note: MHProNews plans to do a report on this recent episode on the thorny subject of community closures, and the impact on residents, the industry and how it impacts the public perception of manufactured homes in land lease communities.  Other thoughtful viewpoints are encouraged.).

Community Co-Owner/Manager View On Richard Jennison and the Manufactured Housing Institute StatePoint Advertorial

September 16th, 2016 No comments

The MH community will grow and succeed when we focus on facts.

Our customers and clients need to understand our product and do not need to be lured into a purchase off an illusion or feeling.

We have created a great industry that is in decay and under attack.  In order to change the perception of our industry, MH pros and leaders need to focus on the facts and true benefits regarding our products and communities to ensure our customers make educated decisions that fit their needs.

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Graphic credit, MHProNews.

Our industry succeeds when our customers are happy.  If a customer is under a false illusion without facts, we fail as an industry and lose credibility.

Thanks,

Tom

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Tom Fath | Operations Manager
New Durham Estates and Home Sales
Westville, IN 46391
Office:  219-785-2576
www.newdurhamestates.com

(Editor’s Note: this headline was provided by MHProNews, as is often the case with an Op-Ed or letters to the editor. This was sent in response to the Masthead column, linked here. For another take on this same issue, see the Op-Ed linked here.