Sometimes the quality of remarks are more important than the mere quantity of statements to public officials. Earlier this week, there were no apparent statements to the FHFA on the Duty to Serve (DTS) manufactured housing mandated for mortgage giants Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s proposed plans for 2022-2024 by anyone actually living in a manufactured home. There were also no posted comments on the FHFA website by either an ersatz or real manufactured home resident advocates reacting or responding to the blatant disregard and twisting of federal law by Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie or Freddie. The case has previously been made by MHLivingNews and MHProNews that the twisting of federal law have arguably turned federal law upside down. But that began to change on Monday 7.12.2021 with comments by manufactured home resident and volunteer advocate, Fred Neil. Then on 7.15.2021, tongue-in-cheek, self-described SOB – son of a boatswain – Robert “Bob” Van Cleef joined Neil.
Van Cleef’s remarks were worth the wait.
Van Cleef’s statement was uploaded to the FHFA website on 7.15.2021. He then thoughtfully provided them to MHLivingNews. As a disclosure, MHLivingNews did not see his remarks until after they were posted with the FHFA.
For a variety of reasons, it has been a while since our readers have ‘heard’ from Van Cleef. Time will tell what comes next. But these remarks, as our analysis will reveal, are significant on several levels. Not the least of which is that these reflect the difference between authentic and ersatz advocacy. More comments and analysis will follow his comments letter, which is provided as sent to MHLivingNews.
His comments as provided are as follows. Only the pagination (page count on the footer of his three pages) has been edited out. The text is as provided in the original. The quotation mark and highlighting by MHLivingNews were not in the original. The entire commentary should be carefully read. The point of the highlighting is made in part to attention the differences between an authentic vs. ersatz advocacy. More on that following Van Cleef’s comments. It should be noted that while he specifically mentions Fannie Mae, similar points apply to Freddie Mac.
To Whom It May Concern at FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Manufactured Homeowners,
Affordable Housing and Manufactured Home Advocates, Lawmakers, Legal, and Other
RE: Request for Information (RFI) DUTY TO SERVE (DTS) INPUT:
PROPOSED 2022-2024 MANUFACTURED HOUSING, RURAL, AND UNDERSERVED MARKETS PLAN
I am not a financial professional, or a lawyer. I am not an employee in any Manufactured Home Sales or Services company. I am a RESIDENT of a 55+ Manufactured Home Community. Hopefully you understand what that means, as it means I AM YOUR CUSTOMER!
I moved into this Manufactured Home Community in December of 2018. Before the first month was out, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we had hit the jackpot1 when we purchased our 39 year old manufactured home in this beautiful, land-lease establishment, with it’s fantastic community.
Unfortunately, as I reported at the Duty to Serve virtual Listening Session on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, I was soon exposed to the dark side of living in a land-lease community, which led to my becoming the President of the Mobil Country Club’s Home Owner’s Association. My life is now focused on helping our neighbors, who are facing serious financial, health, and welfare issues. I call on you to document the reasons why my friends are suffering and what we, as a community, can do to help them.
I have discovered that those reasons are complex and there are many things that will need to be done2 to help the residents of this community and others like it.
The biggest issues my people are facing are related to finances. The fact that they are facing the threat of economic eviction3 from the constant, parasitic rent increases is critical. However, there is also the fact that we get zero support when it comes time to deal with financial organizations.
For example, I needed a $20,000 loan to replace the roof on my home. In spite of my very high credit rating, the only reason I was successful in getting a personal loan was that the manager of my local bank branch fought for me. All the years I lived in my 90 year old site built home, financing was never an issue. This helped open my eyes to one of the major problems people living in Manufactured Homes face. Your organization’s failure to perform.
The Duty to Serve Program
From the FHFA website4:
The Duty to Serve (DTS) requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Enterprises) to facilitate a secondary market for mortgages on housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing, Affordable housing preservation, and Rural housing. (emphasis mine)
From one of Fannie Mae’s fancy documents5:
In December 2016, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued the Duty to Serve Underserved Markets rule, as required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, which guides our activities at Fannie Mae every day.
I am sorry, but I don’t see any sign that Fannie Mae has done anything in compliance with those guidelines. I know that large organizations, just like the RMS Titanic, tend to be slow in responding to courses corrections, but it has been over a decade for you to do what the law REQUIRES! As a young man, I spent twelve years in the US Navy, including four tours of Vietnam. We followed the law and served our country honorably. Isn’t it about time for you to do the same?
I am not the only one calling for change. Both the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform6 and the Manufactured Home Living News7 sites have multiple articles related to your failure to perform.
Where is the Free Market?
On July 9, 2021, in his remarks at the Signing of An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy8, President Biden said the following:
But let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things that can’t go — you can’t go without.
Tim Sheahan, when he was president of the National Association of Manufactured Home Owners (NMHOA), noted that when there was plenty of competition and new land-lease manufactured home communities were coming online, the law of supply and demand kept site fees affordable.
As I stated in my previous submission, there have been no new communities in California in the past thirty years and more closures than openings across the US since 2000. The Affordable Housing Crisis demonstrates that there is plenty of demand. The problem is simple, there is no supply. What impact has your failure to meet your Duty to Serve had on the construction of new manufactured home communities? Could it be that you are actually contributing to the affordability crisis, instead of working to abate it?
I want you to work as a community to find ways to remove ALL the financial obstacles to building new Manufactured Home Communities. That specifically includes removing the financial obstacles that could be addressed by fully enforcing the Duty to Serve laws related to “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing”.
Also, tell the GSEs that all HUD Code manufactured homes should be treated equally. There are millions of people living in land-lease communities that need your help. Forget what the representatives of the large corporations are telling you. They have plenty of other ways to get our money. The homeowners, trapped in their homes, have no protections.
If you are looking for new programs;
How about developing a program that can aid MHC residents against the risk of economic eviction? How about developing a program that can aid MHC residents in purchasing their communities?
How about developing a program that will actually aid MHC residents for once?
It is time for you to ignore the very-rich-, rich-, and moderate-income corporations and instead follow the congressional directive to focus on the very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing, Affordable housing preservation, and Rural housing.
The State of Our Community
I will repeat my previous statement on why these things are important.
Here are the results of a 2019 a survey that was taken after a seven percent increase in the monthly site rental, at the senior community where I live. We found that only 11% of the people living in our community fit the HUD definition for Not-Burdened. 38% met the definition of Moderately-Burdened and 41% qualified for the Severely-Burdened category. At that time, we were hit with mulitple rent increases, making the score for rent increases 18% in just two years. This year, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, when all community facilities were shutdown, we were hit with another 4% increase.
These are people behind the Duty to Serve laws. Can you look into their faces and tell them that you are helping them? I believe it is your Duty, in service to the United States of America, to help those people in anyway that you can.
Robert E. Van Cleef
Robert E. Van Cleef
381 Spreading Oak Lane
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
President: Mobil Country Club Home Owners Association
Legislative Contact: Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League
Community Representative: Sacramento Area Coalition of Mobilehomeowner Associations
General Public; Seat #8: Sacramento County Adult and Aging Commission
- Mobil Country Club Community: We hit the Jackpot!
- Manufactured Home Community Leader Discusses – Manufactured Housing Insanity?
- The Impact of Manufactured Home Community Rent Increases
- FHFA: DUTY TO SERVE PROGRAM
- Committing to Do More – Duty to Serve
- GSEs’ “Duty To Serve Underserved Markets” Plans
- Paltering, Manufactured Homes, CrossModTM Homes, Manufactured Housing Institute, Clayton Homes, Berkshire Hathaway Manufactured Home Lenders, DTS, and You
- Remarks by President Biden At Signing of An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy
An example of Van Cleef’s advocacy is shown in the CBS 13 Sacramento video report below.
Additional examples of Van Cleef’s advocacy are on his blog or linked above in his FHFA comments letter. His comments as posted on the FHFA website can be found on the page linked below.
Comments prior to midnight 7.17.2021 by the public are welcomed by the FHFA via the page linked here.
Note that no specific format is necessary for comments. If you read this in time to sound off, just type away. Among the things that makes Van Cleef’s comments of interest is that he has no sponsor or paid ‘gun for hire’ axe to grind.
Additional Information, MHLivingNews Analysis and Commentary in Brief
Yes, there might be a tweak here or there in the above. But the thrust of the above stands as an interesting contrast to what – say MHAction – has published on this same issue.
In fairness, MHAction has done a reasonably good job of documenting several of what they have called “predatory” business practices. MHAction has directly connected-the-dots between supposedly DTS ‘credit’ on loans for manufactured home communities, while essentially avoiding lending on manufactured home chattel loans.
To oversimplify, MHAction has been documented to receive funding by the Tides Center. That was revealed by a prior GSMOL president Michelle Smith. Following MHLivingNews publishing a report on that point, MHAction added that connection to their website’s footer.
When MHLivingNews documented the connection between Warren Buffett, George Soros and other like-minded leftist billionaire donors to the Tides, we asked MHAction to address that relationship’s impact on their advocacy. They declined.
In the MHAction comments, they have entirely avoided any mention of Buffett, Clayton Homes, or how those connections may impact their advocacy.
Rephrased, MHAction are increasingly being exposed as ersatz advocates that are often benefiting – albeit obliquely at times – the very people that they claim to be working against.
What Van Cleef did could be summed up like this.
- He praised and expressed he and is wife’s joy in discovering manufactured homes and the potential for manufactured home community living.
- Van Cleef has carefully studied the issues that he has since encountered. His reference to fellow resident-advocate Tim Sheahan’s prior comments to FHFA illustrate the point.
- His reference to the Biden statement on antitrust also reflects that point. It will be apparent if that was just window dressing – more paltering – on the part of those who make paltering part of their modus operandi (M.O.)– defined by Oxford Languages as “a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established.”
MHLivingNews and MHProNews has freely admitted several times that even with years of experience in this profession and as manufactured home residents, the complex interconnection of nonprofits apparently working to advance the interests of billionaires and their corporate interests was not fully understood. As evidence and input from a range of voices – such as Michelle Smith at GSMOL – were carefully considered, our reports pivoted to reflect the new understanding of what is real and what is mere theater. Thus, for some years, our publications have applied the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff. Why? Because that ancient – and Biblical – principle is the only meaningful way to make sense of the sometimes complex intertwining of useful comments by voices – like MHAction, the Manufactured Housing Institute, and others – from their apparent misses and harmful comments.
MHAction’s evidence of the misuse of DTS arguably misses by a mile the fact that virtually all of the firms they have mentioned are Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) members.
MHAction has done an insufficient job of making the good parts of manufactured home living, which Van Cleef, Sheahan or others have repeatedly done.
To learn more, see the remarks by MHAction linked above. Those of MHARR linked here. Those comments to FHFA and the GSEs by Soheyla Kovach linked here. And those by this writer – L. A. “Tony” Kovach – on these issues – a highly-documented deep dive – are linked here.
The CFPB report and comments, plus the MHProNews analysis of their report, demonstrated the cause-and-effect relationship between the FHFA failing to insist on Fannie and Freddie facilitating financing on manufactured home personal property loans. The FHFA should insist that the GSEs do manufactured home lending on chattel loans. David Dworkin and others have made it plain that they can do so.
Then, they should stop the manipulation of the DTS process in ways that better fit what Van Cleef and MHARR has said with respect to loans by Fannie and Freddie on communities.
Manufactured housing is an absolutely necessary and positive option for affordable housing. It has and will continue to help millions who for whatever reason want lower cost home ownership. But the true potential will be limited until the FHFA presses Fannie and Freddie to do their job as mandated by Congress.
We lay out the facts and insights that others are too lazy, agenda driven, or are otherwise uninformed to do. That’s what makes our sister site and this location the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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