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Posts Tagged ‘Industry Voices Guest Blog’

Congressman Joe Donnelly Statement for the Record Field Hearing: “The State of Manufactured Housing”

November 29th, 2011 2 comments

 

Congressman Joe Donnelly credit wikimedia commons posted on MHProNews.com Industry Voices Guest Blog I am pleased that the Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee is having this field hearing today.  Manufactured housing plays a vital role in meeting the housing needs of the nation by providing quality, affordable homes to over 18 million people.  This $8 billion a year industry has long been a major economic driver in places like Elkhart County, Indiana by directly employing thousands in manufactured housing plants and thousands more in suppliers’ factories, not to mention contributing to the local municipal tax base. 

 

 

I appreciate the hard work the industry has done for communities across our country and particularly in areas like Northern Indiana, which I am proud to represent.  This industry knows all too well the pain felt by this economic crisis.  The last couple of years have not been easy, and the suppliers, manufacturers and dealers have been patient and worked hard to continue to make quality homes and keep hardworking Americans employed so they can provide for their families. 

 

As we work to emerge from this housing crisis, we realize that now, more than ever, it is important that people have access to quality homes that they can afford.  As millions of Americans are facing or on the brink of foreclosure, we must recognize the value and cost-effectiveness that these homes provide.  Manufactured housing should be considered a critical solution to helping us emerge from this housing crisis. 

 

 

Creating affordable homeownership is one of the fundamental building blocks of our society and plays a fundamental role in achieving the American Dream.  It helps to provide families with economic security and build strong communities.  I hope today is an opportunity to highlight this industry’s important contributions and identify how Congress can ensure it remains a thriving and successful job-creator in America and a source to meet our current and future housing needs. # #

 

 

Congressman Joe Donnelly

 

Media contact: 

Elizabeth Shappell

Communications Director

Congressman Joe Donnelly (IN-02)

1530 Longworth House Office Building

T: (202) 225-3915

F: (202) 225-6798

Response On a Bold Proposal for Moving MHI, MHARR and Manufactured Housing Ahead

November 21st, 2011 No comments

 

One of the proposals being run up the flag pole is to merge MHI and MHARR with Danny Ghorbani to run the areas that are related to manufacturing and with George Allen running the areas related to communities. One obvious omission here is retail – not to mention lending, suppliers and other Industry elements at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – but the proposal has other issues that would suggest against implementation of such a concept.
 
 
Danny Ghorbani is imminently qualified to serve in a role overseeing the manufacturing issues within MHI. From Danny's point of view though, how long would he function before a clash in organizational culture styles might force him out the door?
 
 
Danny is fiercely defensive of issues that negatively affect his organization's members. Many of those members are small or even single plant operations that rightly or wrongly feel they do not have a sufficient voice in MHI. That perception is the reason MHARR was formed. Without some strong reassurances that small manufacturers will gain confidence regarding their voice and that Danny could not summarily be dismissed after the dismantling of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), I do not see a merger having success.
 
 
The merger idea has been floated before and gained little traction. I have spent approximately ten years working with both MHI and MHARR through my role on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). The two organizations functioned very well together in that regulatory environment, but Danny has been free to take up potentially controversial issues that MHI has been able to avoid.
 
 
I have pointed out previously that MHI, by its nature is a trade association that represents the entire industry. By that very nature, it serves in an umbrella or big tent role and all participants may not support an aggressive stance against actions taken by the Federal Government that impact our industry.
 
 
From the perspective of a medium or small manufacturer a significant concern would be to make sure Danny was mentoring a replacement as he gets closer to a time he may choose to retire.
 
 
Recent defensive stances taken by Danny include opposition to unwarranted increased regulatory monitoring activities (implemented by HUD) by the PIAs, exposure of inaccurate fire safety reports by NFPA, and presenting strong arguments for repositioning 3285 installation regulations into 3280 standards to allow for pre-emption of installation guidelines. Would Danny have been free to raise and argue these issues (just to name a few) as an employee of MHI?
 
 
The two individuals suggested certainly have the qualifications to share running a newly configured MHI. But:
 
  • Could MHARR member manufacturers have confidence in such a proposed restructure?
  • Could retailers and others have confidence in a proposed restructure where they are not even mentioned?
 
 
As a manufacturer, I would want to have a membership in both MHI and MHARR. I would look to MHI to continue to serve in the broad role as the industry's trade organization. I would look to MHARR to continue to monitor government actions that are an overreach with negative impacts on affordability for our customer base. # #
 
 
by Doug Gorman,
MH Retailer
HomeMart

Retailer plans meetings to effect positive Dodd-Frank change

September 4th, 2011 1 comment

Tony,

My meeting last week with Congressman John Sullivan (OK 1, R) was one of several where I am trying to help establish the support required to achieve the needed changes in the Dodd-Frank Bill that the industry needs. Congressman Sullivan’s Chief of Staff, Richard Hedgecock, suggested through their scheduler that we meet for lunch at a local icon Ike’s Chili. Ike’s Chili is about two miles west of Home-Mart on Admiral and is celebrating its 102 year. The congressman’s Communications Director, John Tidwell was with the congressman and Chief of Staff Hedgecock. One of the first question Congressman Sullivan asked was how my daughter’s family was and especially about our oldest grandchild Cougar. Congressman Sullivan, and the others, have known Cougar since he was a new born and the congressman never fails to inquire as to how he is doing. All three of them were stunned to realize that he was now nine years old with a little sister, little brother, and another little brother on the way.

After a “low calorie” lunch at Ike’s the congressman asked to ride with me down to Home-Mart. We discussed some recent positive press he had received over two jobs bills he had introduced. Unlike what we are used to seeing in “jobs bills”, his bills promoted less government red tape in the market place. I will send out a copy of the news article on the bills.

Doug Gorman and OK1 (r) Congressman John Sullivan Industry Voices MHMSM.com MHProNews.com

Doug Gorman left, Congressman John Sullivan right

Once we were at Home-Mart, I was able to take the three of them on a tour of three houses (all had been show houses in the past) that ranged in price from $65,000 to $105,000. They were united in their praise of what they saw and the congressman even started talking about how to get one installed on his lake property which he indicated is on the side of a hill.

We inserted the message “Welcome Congressman Sullivan” in our electronic message board to add a little spice to the occasion. I had packets prepared for all three of them which included the industry’s most recent white paper on the Dodd-Frank Bill. Congressman Sullivan, who voted against the bill in the House, committed to help our industry achieve the needed changes in order for us to survive.

Prior to meeting with Congressman Sullivan, I had met in early June with Bill Matchneer. I had worked with Bill for almost ten years through the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee as he was the top person in HUD with direct responsibility for manufactured housing. Bill has been transferred over to the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) which (as a result of the Dodd-Frank Bill) will regulate all financial services transactions (including manufactured housing loans) in the country. Bill has a highly placed position as a staff attorney at the CFPB and was appalled at the looming unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank Bill. Although most of our problems are statutory, Bill will work with the industry as we attempt to mitigate the damage.

In the afternoon that Congressman Sullivan was there I also was able to visit with Dan Hourigan, from Senator Tom Coburn’s office. Dan is Senator Coburn’s Field Representative and was able spend about an hour with us. We discussed the negative ramifications of the Dodd-Frank Bill and other business issues before touring several homes. Senator Coburn also voted against the Dodd-Frank Bill and can be counted on to assist the industry with the needed revisions.

Additional meetings are planned with Senator Jim Inhofe or his staff and field staff members of Congressman Frank Lucas’ office.

Happy Labor Day to one and all.

Doug Gorman
Home Mart,
Tulsa, OK

(Editor’s note: this is the type of positive engagement that we would like to encourage among Industry members. Others who may have their own story of engaging state, local or federal political leaders, we encourage you to send us your story and photos for publication)

Can you handle a few tough questions?

August 28th, 2011 No comments

Can you handle a few tough questions?

I was doing a weekend hike. I asked myself, how can we get more manufactured housing professionals engaged in self-improvement? It hit me: Can you question (and answer!) your way to success?

Why not?

The idea is simple. Ask some challenging questions that get you and your associates thinking.

Ask the questions, get answers, but also encourage others to propose their own tough questions.

I’ll share a pair of examples to get the discussion juices in your office going.

A sales related question example:

  • Do you have an effective strategy for dealing with price resistance?

A management question:

  • Do you know how your organization’s communication patterns are affecting customer perceptions?

Hopefully these examples will help launch this.

Let the answers – and YOUR questions begin. # #

post submitted by
Tim Connor, CSP

Avoiding the Perception and Reality of Discrimination

August 3rd, 2011 1 comment

In a disappointing scenario being played out in disaster-stricken communities across the nation, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policies are resulting in de facto discrimination against HUD Code manufactured housing as both temporary emergency and permanent replacement housing.  At the same time that these policies are unnecessarily complicating badly-needed relief for disaster victims, FEMA, on June 7, 2011, hosted a day-long meeting in Washington, D.C. to explore, discuss and otherwise consider the details of a possible “small footprint” temporary HUD Code emergency home design.  Given these two seemingly opposite directions, a good many HUD Code manufacturers, anxious to meet the current pressing need for post-disaster housing with the most affordable, transportable and rapidly deploy-able homes available, while facing historically low productions levels, are starting to wonder exactly what is going on.

What is “going on,” is that FEMA, facing an immediate need for both short-term emergency relief housing and permanent replacement housing in communities where the existing housing stock and infrastructure has largely been decimated, has, for now, seemingly retreated from the use of new federally-regulated HUD Code housing as a primary source of emergency housing.  Instead, displaced disaster victims have been put-up in rental housing as much as an hour away from their former homes, or in non-HUD Code modular units.  Media reports, for example, indicate that FEMA is currently constructing up to 324 three-bedroom modular homes in Kansas City, Missouri, that will be sited on city-owned land in the north part of town, for some 624 Joplin families and individuals in need of housing.

In part, this appears to be a reflection of specific policy choices by FEMA.  In a May 31, 2011 Associated Press article regarding Joplin, Missouri relief housing, a FEMA spokesperson stated, “despite the distance, putting people in permanent housing is preferable to trailers….”  Another FEMA spokesman commented  that “the agency will consider bringing trailers to Joplin if enough existing housing isn’t available.”  Consequently, FEMA policy seems to be that today’s HUD Code manufactured homes, despite serving as “permanent housing” for millions of Americans and being regulated under federal law as residential dwellings and not “trailers,” are somewhere down its list of options to house disaster victims.

In other places, like Cordova, Alabama, FEMA has failed to overrule — or even object to — local officials who have barred the placement and use of HUD Code manufactured homes as emergency relief housing based on local ordinances, even though such emergency housing is provided with federal tax dollars by a federal government that, under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, is supposed to “facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes.”  According to news reports, FEMA’s official comment on this HUD Code  housing ban affecting large numbers of displaced disaster victims, was that “it’s a local issue….”  Whether this is an outgrowth of a “second choice” policy for HUD Code housing or simply unwarranted deference to biased local officials, the result is the same — discrimination against HUD Code manufactured housing that hurts both disaster victims and the industry.

In the meantime, against this backdrop, FEMA, at its June 7, 2011 gathering, devoted an entire business day to a discussion — with industry members — of hypothetical “small footprint” one-bedroom HUD Code units that FEMA might be interested in purchasing under a “possible” future contract.  This, in turn, has led to the creation of  task forces, committees, discussion groups and the like, and meetings of those groups, to explore the particulars of such units, while, at the same time, it was apparent from the various FEMA presentations, that there is considerable confusion and disagreement, within FEMA, regarding the most basic aspects of such a unit, including: its size and configuration; its compliance with federal accessibility criteria; possible mandatory compliance with the International Residential Code; the installation and storage of such units; and the possible use of such “small footprint” homes as permanent housing.  And all this is if FEMA goes forward with such an initiative at all — with FEMA officials cautioning that nothing has yet been decided.

The bottom line for now, is that while there is the appearance of discrimination against new HUD Code manufactured housing in the field for both relief and permanent replacement housing, the industry has been left to chew over the details of a possible new opportunity that may be, could be, or might not ever be.  So, what to do?

Let there be no mistake, the industry can and should continue to work with FEMA.  The HUD Code industry has traditionally taken the lead in providing — on a quick, timely and flexible basis — safe, decent and readily deployable relief and replacement housing for disaster victims.  The industry should continue to pursue this role vigorously with FEMA at the policy level, which is why MHARR participated in the June 7, 2011 FEMA meeting and the Association has already started to follow-up on ways that the HUD Code industry can provide even more assistance to FEMA and other government agencies responsible for post-disaster relief.  The HUD Code industry already has the knowledge, know-how and experience to  provide whatever FEMA and disaster victims need.  But it must also address current FEMA policies.  Very simply, FEMA must be urged to change policies that have resulted, effectively, in discrimination against HUD Code manufactured housing and to re-commit to the use of HUD Code housing — of all types — as an equal participant in its federally-funded programs for both short-term emergency housing and permanent relief housing.

In MHARR’s view, the HUD Code industry has long been at the forefront of helping government provide both temporary relief and permanent replacement housing for victims of natural disasters, and with appropriate policies in dealing with FEMA, there is no reason why it should not continue in — and even expand — that role. # #

Danny D. Ghorbani is President of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform.  MHARR is a Washington, DC-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally regulated manufactured housing.  Danny can be reached at 202-783-4087.

The Manufactured Home Industry: Who Are They?

July 18th, 2011 No comments

There has been a whirlwind of activity within the industry as of late.  Specifically, polarized and heated arguments regarding the direction we need to take both legislatively and image-wise.  I have read countless articles saying, “The industry needs to do this…,” and “The industry must do such…,” all highlighting our very survival.

Who is ‘the industry?’

I, for one, do not want our survival to be in the hands of faceless organizations known only by acronyms.  Here’s the key: Our survival is in our hands.

I stumbled into the MH Industry a year ago when I was transitioned from project manager to unemployed. Though I have known people residing in MH communities, I did not know the business model.

I voraciously consumed all information I could get my hands on.  Basic management principles remain timeless however, property and land-lease legalities are an entirely different animal.

I learned from reading MHMSM.com and other publications that this industry is limping along.  Depressed home sales, lack of direction, poor image, on the verge of oblivion, etc.  I got excited.  If history tells us anything it is not to listen to the masses and the masses are lamenting which means there are opportunities to be had in abundance.

One historical reference comes to mind.  Two-hundred thirty-five years ago, the Declaration of Independence was signed when the complainers felt oppressed by unfair taxation.  Eleven years later they drafted the U.S. Constitution which began with three crucial words.  These words have as much power today as they did then but they are often neglected as cliche.  The words are: “We the people.”

The industry is not politicians, non-profit entities, organizations having turf wars, or a handful of names we look toward for leadership.  They are us.  You.  Me.  The directors of your association.  The retailers, manufacturers, community owners, employees, contractors, and yes, especially the residents.

We are the industry.  The thing to do is not complain but to take action.

One voice is like a mosquito – it can be swatted and ignored.   But not a swarm.  If each of us does not take a least a little action, we are each to blame for the demise of our industry.

That means call your representatives, write letters, meet with those who are influential and keep doing it!  Could we fail? Possibly, but without action failure is guaranteed.

We are the industry and we have a voice.  Make yours heard today.  Make at least one phone call or write one letter and do it now.  # #

James-Cook MHC property Manager

James-Cook MHC property Manager

James Cook
Manufactured Home Community Property Manager

(401) 402-0373
Fax (815) 572-5255