I am deeply encouraged that less than 24 hours into President Trump’s term, he has frozen new, potentially burdensome regulations.
The immediate impact assists working people and those on fixed incomes – as well as others of low and moderate income – to realize the dream of affordable manufactured homeownership and cannot be overstated.
Onerous regulations were in the process of adoption by the previous administration that would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of manufactured homes, thus pricing tens of thousands of Americans from realizing the dream of homeownership.
Those regulations range from excessive energy mandates, to overkill foundation rules, as well as needless additional regulation of home construction.
Image credit, MHProNews. The headline and image are provided by the editor.
Manufactured homes are the ONLY form of housing where each home is rigorously inspected and approved by government in the design, construction, and home placement process.
The strong existing consumer protections will continue without the regulatory over kill which would have stifled expanded homeownership and cost thousands of construction jobs. ##
National Public Radio (NPR) did a two-part report released this week on manufactured home communities, part one of their controversial story – “Mobile Home Park Owners Can Spoil An Affordable American Dream” – including initial manufactured home industry related responses, are linked here.
Tim Williams, OMHA.
Against that backdrop, the following questions were addressed to Tim Williams, Executive Director of the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) by MHProNews, to get Williams’ reaction to the issues raised by NPR. Williams’ replies are in brown, following each question.
Q – How many manufactured home communities are there in Ohio?
Q – NPR reported 20 communities in Ohio with drinking water problems. Isn’t that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of all communities in the state?
Ohio EPA indicated 6 system failures in MHCs over 4 years, according to information shared with us in 2015 by Ohio EPA staff. That’s 3/10ths of one percent.
Interestingly, Ohio EPA was the subject of numerous negative news stories in 2016 when it was forced to fire two of its employees for failure to properly monitor lead contamination in the water supply of Sebring, Ohio…a community of 4,300 people. Where was NPR’s coverage of that catastrophe?
The real story is the Ohio EPA’s failure to properly monitor water quality test results from their own certified water operators in the highly-publicized Sebring, Ohio debacle – where they failed to perform their job monitoring monthly water quality test results from their own certified water operators.
OMHA has repeatedly testified before the Ohio Legislature regarding the Ohio EPA lapses and proposed legislative and regulatory overreach.
OMHA has indicated in public testimony our commitment to water quality in manufactured home communities (MHCs) and our strong support in bringing in to compliance those rare instances of water supply compromise.
Q – In your experience, do most community operators ignore health and safety concerns, or do they try to provide a clean, healthy environment for their residents?
MHC water quality operators are certified by Ohio EPA and conduct water quality test results monthly, which they report to Ohio EPA. The MHC operators immediately correct any quality issues even before Ohio EPA needs to intervene.
Ohio has the most stringent home installation program in the nation with 3 inspections and 100% inspection of all home installations. Ohio new manufactured home sales have tripled in six years. Obviously, Ohio citizens find manufactured home living not only affordable, but of high quality and satisfaction.
Ohio has extensive training, legal support and a record of integrity in assisting OMHA member MHCs in complying with all government rules and regulations.
Q – Because news media in general has a reputation for looking for trouble or the sensational rather than the good, do you think that NPR has pained a balanced view of manufactured home community living? Do you think most community operators are heartless, or do you see them in a different light than NPR has portrayed in this story?
The NPR article creates a false narrative of uncaring manufactured home community (MHC) operators.
NPR should be held accountable for balanced news reporting, where the truth of manufactured home living is accurately portrayed.
NPR didn’t even bother to contact the only industry trade association – OMHA – to obtain more than one side to their reference regarding the Ohio EPA director’s comments.
NPR seems to subtly imply in their anecdotal profile of a few residents in Idaho that the millions of Americans who choose the option of manufactured home living are somehow subjected to inferior conditions. I find that discriminatory, elitist view offensive to our lower and moderate income MH residents and totally unrepresentative of the MH living experience.
As Americans have become increasingly aware, the bias of many news media organizations, like NPR, that promote false social narratives – such as victimhood and identity politics. Rather than accurately report the facts that don’t fit their liberal agendas, [that part of the media] is increasingly out of touch with the pulse of America. ##
(Editor’s Note 1: The video above reflects thousands of examples of public water systems problems, such as the one Williams’ response above raised. “An invisible infrastructure problem was illuminated by the Flint water crisis: 5,300 U.S. water systems violate lead rules; this affects roughly 18 million Americans,” Dave Packman Show.
Editor’s Notes 2: The headline, graphics, video, and introduction are provided by MHProNews.com. The story Williams has responded to – along with other related information – are linked here. Williams’ responded to MHProNews’ inquiry with the above details in about an hour from the time we contacted him. By contrast, NPR has also been contacted for comment – and 20 hours after they acknowledged their receipt of our first questions – NPR has failed to provide any further details to address industry concerns about the slanted nature of their first report. MHProNews will provide further follow-up on this controversial issue as it develops. To check out a prior interview, A Breakfast with…Tim Williams, click here.).
Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers (co-sponsor HR 650) and John Ryan, (Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown) spent nearly two hours at Haydens Heights MH Community in Dublin, Ohio (UMH Properties, Inc.). The tour was arranged and led by Sam Landy, CEO of UMH Properties, Inc. Joining Sam was Tim Williams, Executive Director, Ohio Manufactured Homes Association, UMH’s Ohio team led by Bob Vanschuyver and Angela Smith, Jim Gallagher of Skyline Homes as well as others from UMH.
Sam led a tour of two homes in the community along with a discussion about the challenges of financing customers as a result of unintended restrictions from the Dodd/Frank Act. Sam emphasized the current barriers to allowing MH sales people to discuss financing with potential customers. Of equal importance, the group provided detailed information to Congressman Stivers and Mr. Ryan involving the MH lifestyle, homeownership and/or rental costs as well as demographics of the MH homeowners. Tim Williams provided an Ohio perspective discussing among other items, the strong consumer installation program in Ohio and the Ohio market place in general.
Left to right, John P. Carney, Kristi McGovern, Angela Smith, John Ryan, Elmer Thomas, Joe Gilligan, Samuel A. Landy, Robert Van Schuyver, Tim Williams, Brett Taft
Williams said, “Sam and the UMH team have been a tremendous asset in Ohio for our industry image. The UMH example of professionalism and their significant investment of purchasing and upgrading 29 communities in Ohio in recent years has been a hallmark of excellence we are able to showcase in our state. I believe the two hour meeting/tour was of genuine and sincere interest to Congressman Stivers and John Ryan (Senator Brown). Both leaders also indicated any potential to move HR 650/S 682, would likely be as an amendment to larger legislation. ”
Many of our friends in the industry, including my friend Tony at MHLivingNews, have questioned why MHI hasn’t made a strong rebuttal response to the PBS story.
There are good arguments that we should respond to every story, refute every statistic, and make our case to the public. Certainly we can make the case that the PBS story was not fair and balanced reporting. Just one example is the interview with Dick Ernst. Dick spent several hours with PBS representing our industry as an official spokesman. The reporter had about one hour of taped interview with Dick and used only 45 seconds of that interview.
We can also make a case to counter the segment addressing manufactured home site rent increase. No one from MHI was asked to comment on the segment and the allegation that consumers become trapped in their homes. The reporter did not make any effort to understand the cost of operating a manufactured home community and why those costs must be passed on to the tenants,even though MHI provided ample evidence and information to assist the reporter in his research.
The reporter did not attempt to compare site rent increases to apartment rent increases. Just last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a Section C front page story about apartment rent increases. The annual rate of rent increases has averaged 3.93% over the last 4 years. This is a greater rate of increase than cited for lot rent in the PBS story where leader/actor Ms. Burr was complaining about her site rent increasing just over 3% per year.
So why not respond with our good facts?
The PBS story ran on a date where everyone was busy with the holidays and very few people saw the story. The last thing we want to do is bring more attention to a negative story about our industry.
The other problem with responding is the selective nature of what the press will print when you know they have an agenda. If we submit the above paragraph where I acknowledge Ms. Burr’s site rent increases on average more than 3% per year, what do you think PBS will print? The risk is that they leave out the comparison to apartment rents that increase nearly 4% per year and print our acknowledgment that manufactured housing community site rents increase over 3% per year as they repeat their assertion that manufactured homes depreciate and residents become trapped in their homes.
I understand the argument that we must work harder to tell our story and emphasize the advantages of manufactured homes. We have a good product and a good story to tell. We don’t need to tell it to people with an agenda who will only tell half the story. MHI has been focused on communicating positive messages about manufactured housing’s benefit. We are targeting media sources that will give us a fair hearing and policymakers in Washington. This effort to drown out the negative media attention has been steadily increasing and we are pleased to have so many members willing to highlight the positive message of manufactured housing in this effort. We believe this is the right approach for the industry. Make no mistake, MHI issued a strong response to the PBS story by going straight to its producers. This targeted approach has yielded the opportunity for MHI to receive fair airtime on that program at a future date, and we are currently exploring this opportunity.
Additionally, MHI President/CEO Dick Jennison is in the process of hiring a seasoned media relations professional. This position was approved by the MHI Board for the position to begin in March 2016, but at the request of Dick Jennison, the MHI executive committee approved bring on this position as soon as the right person can be hired.
It is the intent of MHI to broaden its public relations/communications focus to include positive consumer stories including testimonials on why people choose to live in and how they benefit from manufactured homes and living in our communities.##
Addtionally, please note that the headline submitted by Tim Williams read, Responding to PBS. Traditionally in media, it is the editor who selects headlines, and we modified his as shown to make clear the issue being addressed, and frankly, for better SEO on this important topic.
Other perspectives on this or other issues facing MH are encouraged.)
MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com are both good communications resources for the Manufactured Housing Industry. I and many others at 21st Mortgage and at MHI logon to see the latest news, interviews, debates, videos, opinions and reports they publish. Having a trade publisher that presents thoughtful, respectful commentary independent of any association’s perspective – as important as an association’s view can be – can be a big asset to advancing the MH Industry’s cause. Let me explain why.
There are times that publisher L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach – or a writer or interviewed person on one of his trade media sites – will take a view different than that of a given association.
Respectfully and thoughtfully done, that can lead to a healthy discussion. Such discussions are how industry members can learn from each other and grow. We may agree or disagree, but a quality, candid and respectful discussion that clarifies issues has true value.
When MHI or another association finds Tony or one of his guest writer’s taking a view clearly supportive of an Industry association’s stated position, that should bring more confidence to all; precisely because they share an independent viewpoint.
A “yes man” has limited value, while the thoughtful agreement or discussion from a variety of engaged players is all-the-more compelling and powerful.
At 21st Mortgage, we have access to a wide variety of resources that the independent business or professional in MH may lack. While anyone can gain value from their industry trade publications, independent business owners can gain valuable insight from the industry news, tips and views found on MHProNews and MHLivingNews.com.
Tony is routinely at MHI meetings, and attends the briefings and sessions. He is engaged. When he says he supports HR 650/S 682, he walks the walk in word and deed. He has clearly supported the earlier versions of the bill and commented as such in his publications.
We all make mistakes. I know that Tony has corrected errors when they are brought to his attention. His publication accepts opinion articles or will share views in interviews that may differ from his own published position. My impression is that Tony isn’t looking for ‘an amen corner,’ rather, he wants a variety of views that get people to think, talk and take action.
At times, MHI presents messages in ways differing or emphasizing one point over another than Tony’s publications. For example, Tony acknowledges that due to CFPB regulations, there is an impact on MH lending at $75,000, and states as much in videos and articles. On this we agree. He tells me his emphasis of the impact to MH on homes below $20,000 is because of feedback he gets from home sellers. While we are choosing to focus on two different segments of our borrowers, the overall message is still the same. To rephrase, Tony’s publications and MHI are both correct on this issue. There is no daylight, just a difference in delivery.
I’m happy to commend Tony and his team members for the important work they do to advocate for our MH industry. Perhaps one of the more useful points that can be made about their value is that others in the mainstream media and in government have cited Tony, MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com, and/or have shared his pro-industry take on a wide range of MH related subjects. They’ve done positive and profitable work promoting the MH industry, events, products and services.
We hope his team continues their years of efforts to provide a balanced and useful source of info on MH. Their growth and success are good news for our MH Industry. ##
Tim Williams President/CEO 21st Mortgage Corp.
As Sandra's article underscored, drilling is continuing unabated in Ohio.
Furthermore, the tremendous infrastructure necessary to move the gas, oil and separate the various byproducts such as ethane, propane and feed stock for the petrochemical industry has resulted in billions upon billions of dollars in construction projects involving processing plants and pipelines criss-crossing Ohio.
Oil is only one byproduct produced in the region.
The wet and dry natural gas which is typically extracted from the same well allows the drilling and production to provide multiple economic benefits and is the "real story" here.
The cheap natural gas to run factories has resulted in significant manufacturing expansions and relocations to Ohio. The unemployment rate in Ohio, once the poster child for the "Rust Belt," is now below the national average. Manufactured home sales have more than doubled here in less than 3 years.
I'll take the Ohio prospects for MH in any Vegas odds making! UMH Properties had foresight in expanding its holdings in Ohio and will reap the benefits.
Seeking Alpha has done better on some other MH related articles, but this one they did on UMH that Sandra Lane reported on indeed missed the mark. Kudos to Sandra for setting the record straight. ##
Surrounded by more than 300 family, friends, and colleagues from across the country, the Class of 2012 was inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame (Hall) at a gala ceremony last week in Elkhart, Indiana.
Barry Cole (Manufactured Housing Insurance Services), chairman of the board of directors for the Hall, said, "What a joyous occasion with all past legends and present leaders of our great industries to honor the ten new inductees. There is no industry function that can equal the emotional feeling and happiness when mingling and networking with so many greatest of the great."
Cole believed it was an incredible evening supported by both RV and Manufactured Housing segments.
Inductees and family members accepting on behalf of deceased inductees include: First Row (L-R): Doug Gorman,
Stan Sunshine, Gerald "Jiggs" Meuret, Kaki Williamson, Jeanne Mize, Rachel Gandy, Mary Irene Younkin,
Michael Evans. Second Row: Bob Olson, Kent Titcomb, Allan Yoder, Gail Yoder and Holly Yoder.
"The cocktail party was fun, the huge group picture with all attending was charming, the dinner as always was incredible and best of all was the touring of the RV/MH Hall of Fame itself." Cole continued. "Wandering through the exhibits, theater, library and museum surprised some new guests. They were shocked at the unbelievable greatness and beauty of the building plus discovering their heritage for the first time. All comments from everyone referencing the Hall were in superlatives."
"Some of the many MH veterans who mingled and networked during the cocktail hour were Ron Younkin, Jeff Wicke, Dan Rolfes, Tim Williams, L. A. 'Tony' Kovach, Ken Rishel and George Allen."
"At dinner Dick Jennison (MHI) was sitting with a contingency of MH professionals Jim Scoular, John Evans, Leo Poggione, Darrell Boyd, Chris Barrett and John Loucks. Ross Kinzler was sitting with Jigs Meuret and Danny Gorbani (MHARR) sitting with Doug and Millie Gorman. These are a few of the enormous number of MH attendees."
"These are a few of the enormous number of MH attendees."
Keynote speaker David Humphreys (left). Darryl Searer (right) delivers good news concerning the financial health of the Hall
Keynote Speaker David Humphreys, former president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association said, "The Hall of Fame serves many purposes for the industry.
Besides providing a great consumer attraction, the Hall of Fame defines an important message for the financial community, the media and legislators and gives a sense of pride, unity and accomplishment for the entire industry."
Noting the solid financial footing the Hall of Fame has achieved through the leadership of President Darryl Searer, Humphreys urged audience members to give the same priority to the Hall of Fame they give to industry unity."
In a behind-the-scenes look at the financial status of the Hall and its recovery from near insolvency just a few months ago, Searer declared, "The Hall of Fame has never been in better shape than it is today."
Overall debt owed by the Hall has been cut by $2.5 million in the four months since Searer assumed the Hall presidency.
Cole added, "It was a special evening you just did not want to end. You are invited next year."##
When you get a key piece of federal legislation sponsored in the U.S. Sentate, how does that happen? We asked Tim Williams to answer that question, and here is what he told us in his own words.
“First and foremost Nathan Smith is the game changer (with the credibility and relationship) who advocated and led the industry effort with the assistance of MHI. Nathan, myself, Tim Williams of 21st and MHI’s Jason Boehlert as well as several other MHI key finance members initially met with Senator Brown in January regarding the industry’s concerns with Dodd/Frank. Nathan did a great job debriefing the Senator and his staff on the issue and encouraging legislative consideration. It was clear Senator Brown had a good understanding and sincere interest in the issue and our industry even before the meeting started.
I was able to discuss Ohio’s strong MH Commission’s role in consumer protection under the industry led independent Ohio MH Commission (6 of 9 commissioners must be appointed per a list nominated by OMHA per Ohio law). Senator Brown was very interested in the industry, our consumer and their protections under the Ohio Commission including the fact that 100% of all homes are inspected during three critical phases of the installation process in Ohio. He asked many questions regarding Ohio law, demographics and industry businesses as well as the jobs aspect of our economic impact in Ohio and nationally. He was clearly engaged with us on the issue.
Tim Williams of 21st was able to succinctly condense a rather complicated issue in to an understandable dynamic all could grasp and wrap our heads around. Tim’s ability to take the issue down to its basic components was very helpful in demonstrating the practical challenges facing the ability to finance Ohioans in to affordable manufactured home ownership. I am very appreciative of Tim and 21st Mortgage's leadership on the Dood/Frank concerns and believe his impact on the legislative aspect of all of this is probably underestimated but nonetheless critical to our success.
I personally appreciate the effort Senator Brown demonstrated in understanding our industry and concerns as well as to brief us on the legislative dynamics of the issue. I encourage all industry members to thank Senator Brown and express support to his office in any appropriate manner. He stood up for our consumers and industry on a challenging issue regardless of the pressures he faces in an election year.