MHConspiracies & Change Coming on….

Blog Column # 283 Copyright 2014 9 February 2014

Perspective. ‘Land-lease-lifestyle communities, a.k.a. manufactured home communities & earlier, ‘mobile home parks’, is the real estate component of manufactured housing.’

Purpose of this blog. “It’s the national advocacy voice, statistical research reporter, & communication resource for LLLCommunities, of all sizes, throughout North America!’

Input this blog, & Affiliate with the Community Owners (7 Part) Business Alliance, a.k.a. COBA7, via the Official MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

I.

MHConspiracies # 101 & 102

II.

I Feel Change Coming On….

III.

JP Morgan Chase Funds ROC Conversions!

IV.

FLASH NEWS!
60,228 &/or 60,210?
(You don’t want to miss this)

I.

MHConspiracies # 101 & 102

It wasn’t long after blog # 281 was posted two weeks ago, on the community-investor.com website, before two distinct types of telephone calls and email messages began arriving at our office in central Indiana.

One type caller expressed enthusiastic appreciation for our publicly identifying the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, where ‘affluence gerrymandering’ has long been and continues to be, a serious but ignored concern regarding most national meetings of certain industry advocacy bodies. For those reading this, who didn’t peruse the earlier blog posting, ‘affluence gerrymandering’ was defined as being ‘The artful limiting of meeting attendance by keeping the cost of member participation higher than necessary.’ Hmm. Might we describe this then, as MHConspiracy # 101? No. Conspiracy is too strong a word choice here, being defined as ‘a plan or agreement formulated, especially in secret, by two or more persons, to commit an unlawful, harmful, or treacherous act.’ However, IF ‘the plan or agreement’ is indeed to ‘limit the number of potential decision maker members involved in national advocacy meeting proceedings’; well, that could prove ‘Harmful’ to the work, even the greater purpose of the trade or advocacy group as a whole! SO, is there a more appropriate word choice than conspiracy?

‘Cabal’ fits better, given its definition as ‘a secret scheme or intrigue’. For example, when was the last time national advocacy body leaders or staff asked us, who’re direct, dues-paying members and certified representatives, if we enjoyed, let alone were/are able to afford, spending ‘big bucks’ for two days of committee meetings in Sunbelt Mecca’s and high-priced downtown locales, instead of patronizing more affordable venues? They haven’t, don’t, and likely won’t! So, with that said, meet MHCabal # 101! But this telling question begs answering: Is indeed, ‘affluence gerrymandering’ Harmful to the Work and Purpose of National Advocacy Body(ies)?
I say YES! How ‘bout YOU? And if you agree ‘affluence gerrymandering’ is Harmful, guess who can do something about it? YOU, if a direct, dues-paying member of such a national advocacy body.

The other type caller had a markedly different focus, describing yet another alleged conspiracy (Again, their word choice, not mine – yet), I’d long heard whispered, but hoped to be untrue. And here I think, if indeed true, ‘conspiracy of silence’ is the most appropriate word choice, given this definition: ‘…a usually secret or unstated agreement to remain silent about something that might be damaging or harmful to those participating in the agreement if disclosed.’ How so? Well these latter callers described a sorry duplicitous matter, using words to this effect:

The manufactured housing industry has long suffered home builder competitors, and real estate-related detractors, inside and around the Washington, DC beltway.

And while it’s difficult enough, to offset negative image stereotypes foisted on the manufactured housing industry by itself, dealing effectively with arcane and esoteric interpersonal relationships and intrigues among outside detractors and industry insiders – with oft harmful results to manufactured housing – is a daunting, under-addressed task! Like, ‘Who does one trust?’ Heretofore, ‘You didn’t!’; and going forward, ‘You can’t!’, at least for the time being, or until corrective ‘change’ is deemed necessary, effected, and a new start begun….

Frankly, the ‘conspiracy of silence’ label aptly describes how disparaging, scheming parties and others, seem frequently to be ‘reading our strategic planning minds’, before and during lobbying with legislators and federal regulators – with either ‘no’, bad, or marginal consequences to the manufactured housing industry! Examples? Look no further than the pitiful lack of progress implementing the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 during the past 13 years! During year 2013, the botched – accidental or otherwise – appointment process to seat an agreed upon Non-career Administrator for the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee. And then there was the necessary rush to disabuse the Government Accounting Office (‘GAO’) of the erroneous survey notion that doing away with the HUD-Code for manufactured housing, would have little to no effect on the annual shipment volume of new homes! Well, nothing much has changed, that I see, so the ‘conspiracy of silence’ continues in and around the DC beltway….

What do YOU think? Depending on personal and corporate perspectives, relative to national advocacy matters regarding HUD-Code manufactured housing, and whether you’re dealing with these matters from afar or up close, you’ve surely experienced, maybe even dealt with, one or another aspect of home builder, real estate, and insider detractions, relative to our industry and its realty asset class, the land-lease-lifestyle community. IF so affected, have YOU then ever wondered – better yet, known firsthand, why neutralizing such contretemps (e.g. ‘unexpected & embarrassing events or mishaps’), like the ones just described, have been nigh impossible to prevent to date? Your answer to that question clarifies whether all this is simple connivance, a serious collusion, or double dealing conspiracy of silence, a.k.a. ‘MHConspiracy # 102’!

II.

I Feel Change Coming On….

Coming off a failed national Dodd-Frank amendment lobbying campaign, as year 2013 ended, the manufactured housing industry Needs Change on several fronts, not simply, expensively, and expansively ‘More of the Same’ – as is being video ballyhooed today! For example; how many reading this blog were present at the industry meeting in San Antonio, TX., 1 ½ years ago, and recall a Midwest state MHAssociation executive famously asking aloud:

“What’s Plan B, if the Dodd-Frank amendment lobbying campaign, in Congress, fails?”

There was no Plan B then, nor is there one now – that we’ve heard, other than the above-referenced cry for ‘More of the Same!” NO; what the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry Needs NOW is CHANGE, a new Plan B, replete with Lessons (just) Learned on Capitol Hill during the past six months! And Please, NO more ‘throwing good money after bad’ WHY? Well, in the minds of some, there might just be a MHConspiracy of sorts afoot within the housing finance segment of our industry, and draining our resources at this time, will only weaken us as we move into the future. But that story is not yet ready to be told, by me anyway….

But if the cryptic message describing ‘MHConspiracy # 102’ is accurate – and it is – we need a manufactured housing advocacy body(ies) housecleaning of sorts, the sooner the better! ‘Business as Usual’ will only take us as far as ‘More of the Same’ – not far, not effective at all! And that, blog flogger (‘reader’) is where we are today, and that’s Unsatisfactory to many grassroots businessmen and women across the U.S.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. If YOU want to ‘speak your mind’ about a MHIndustry-related issue, take time to organize and pen your thoughts. Then send your 200-300 word op/ed (opinion/editorial) piece to gfa7156@aol.com, for consideration, and possible inclusion, in a future blog posting at this website: community-investor.com

Now, back to the timely and thought-provoking topics at hand….

Who, What, When, Where, How, & How Much Change? Hey, I’m not an elected leader of this not so merry band. But I am a direct, dues-paying member of one of three national manufactured housing-related trade and advocacy bodies (NOT including the Community Owners Business Alliance, or COBA7, as it isn’t a national, not for profit or non profit advocacy entity), and One who isn’t planning on attending any more of their meetings anytime soon.! Why? Should be obvious to all by now: MHCabal # 101, MHConspiracy # 102, maybe even a MHConspiracy #…..

Now, if someone wants to pay my registration fee and travel expense (Just kidding!) – or at least promise the fees and expenses will be reasonable from this time forward; and, that we’ll ALL sit down in a day or two long problem-solving session or MHInitiative®, OPEN to bona fide, direct, dues-paying members of the host national advocacy body(ies), to deal with MHConspiracy # 102, ‘Count me in!’ – but it sure won’t be as soon as this week or next will it? And how ‘bout ever?

III.

JP Morgan Chase Funds ROC Conversions!

ROC USA® was recently awarded $MM by JPMorgan Chase Foundation to help more co-ops buy their land-lease-lifestyle communities (A.k.a. manufactured home communities). Most of the funds will be used as equity in the firm’s community purchase financing subsidiary, ROC USA Capital, and shared with two other nonprofit community development lenders: Leviticus 25:23 Alternatives Funs & Mercy Loan Fund.

ROC USA® is unique among resident-ownership service providers, in that it provides expert assistance and proven systems (before and after residents purchase) swell as financing (for due diligence, acquisition, & rehab) to deliver resident-ownership effectively and efficiently Since it launch in 2008, ROC USA® has helped co-ops (i.e. ‘cooperatives’) purchase a LLLCommunity every 36 days, with transactions ranging from a half-million dollars to $23 million in value.

For more information, contact Paul Bradley via (603) 856-0709 or visit rocusa.org

IV.

FLASH NEWS!
60,228 & or 60,210?

READ CAREFULLY & YOU DECIDE
(Hint: There’re three discrepancies here, not just one)

An MHARR Press Release dated 3 February 2013 announced, “Cumulative 2013 industry production thus totaled 60,228 homes, an increase of 9.7% over the 54,881 homes produced in 2012.”; & continued, “2013…becomes the first year since 2008, that annual industry production has broken through the +/- 50,000-home level (sic).” *1 On request, MHARR clarified ‘their 60,228 number’ on 7 February, as follows: “MHARR’s numbers are based on official HUD monthly production and shipment reports: The total for 2013 is 60,228, as reported by MHARR.”

MHI’s Monthly Economic Report distributed 7 February 2014 announced, “Year to date shipments totaled 60,210 homes compared with 54,891 homes in 2012, a net increase of 9.7 percent.” On request, MHI clarified ‘their 60,210 number’ on 7 February, as follows: “The distinction between MHARR’s number and MHI’s number is nuanced. The 60,228 figure is the total production of HUD Code homes whereas the 60,210 is the number of homes shipped. The slight difference is a result of ‘destination pending’ and other inventory and timing issues. In this instance, both numbers are correct but are counting two different items – production versus shipments.”

In fairness to MHARR, I’ve not had an opportunity to ask if they agree with the explanation put forth in the previous paragraph. And frankly – to me anyway – that’s not the issue anyway. Rather; it’s about ‘Correcting a minor but perennial reporting procedure error (#1)’, and HOW the HUD-Code manufactured housing industry will ‘Keep Score’ going forward. Will it be production or shipments numbers; and or, ‘HUD monthly production and shipment reports’ vs. what?

By careful reading, did you catch the other discrepancy (#2) in reported production/shipment numbers from these two national advocacy bodies? Look again, and check-out the reported annual total of new HUD-Code homes produced or shipped during year 2012? Was it 54,881 as reported by MHARR, or 54,891 as reported by MHI?

POINT? Last year, in 2012, for unspecific reasons, the two annual manufactured housing production/shipment totals were 10 homes apart; this year in 2013, they’re 18 homes apart! *2 And by the end of year 2014, if the unspecific trend continues unaddressed, and no reporting consensus is achieved, another 80 percent increase, takes us to what, maybe 32 homes? I realize two years don’t make for a trend, but there is no good reason why two national advocacy bodies can’t agree, once and for all, on how to tally and report our industry’s annual production/shipments. And while they’re at it, agree to include an appropriate end or footnote, to said Press Releases and Monthly Economic Reports, clarifying if, whether, and how ‘floors’ were counted and represented in the reported numbers. Do YOU know right now, the effect of that distinction on the 60,228 and 60,210 figures? Not many do….

Why is all this important? Simple. Individuals, journalists, researchers, all Street analysts, legislators, regulators, and others, use our industry stats, so we owe them accurate and clear reporting! For example; the Community Owners Business Alliance, or COBA7, this month, published and distributed its’ annual ‘Official State of the Manufactured Housing & Land-lease-lifestyle Community Asset Class Briefing Outline’ to its’ affiliates. One of the supporting documents, ‘Mobile & Manufactured Housing –related statistics, from 1959 to the Present Day’, cites 54,881 new HUD-Code homes shipped during 2012. So, is the correct reporting, for 2012: 54,881 homes produced and 54,891 homes shipped, or the other way around, 54,881 homes shipped and 54,981 homes produced? Confused yet? You should be. If not, take a gander at end note # 2. If ‘we’ as an industry, don’t understand our production and shipment numbers ‘across the board’, how can we expect anyone else to do so? These present circumstances do not help our industry’s credibility and business image at all.

End Notes:

1. Should have read ‘60,000 home level’, as all the years, except 2009, since 2008, have ‘broken through the 50,000-home level, i.e. 2008 = 81,457; 2009 = 49,683; 2010 = 50,056; 2011 = 51,618; 2012 = 54,881; and, 2013 = 60,228. From MHARR’s aforementioned Press Release dated 7 February 2014. NOTE. This was the (#3) discrepancy hinted at in the title of this part of the blog posting today. GFA

2. Dropping deeper into confusion, contemplate these number relationships:
MHARR = 60,228 homes in 2013; 54,881 homes in 2012
MHI = 60,210 homes in 2013; 54,891 homes in 2012
MHARR’s total annual ‘whatever’ number is ‘18’ MORE than MHI’s in 2013, BUT ‘10’ LESS than MHI’s number in 2012; hence the disparity moves in different directions, two years in a row. What will we find, going back in years?

***

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM®Master
Box # 47024, Indpls, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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