How do you know you have found the Rodney Dangerfield of affordable housing? Simple. It is when your kind of housing does not get its proper respect.
One recent example of that improper respect is when a local news channel – sincerely trying to give manufactured homes a complement – can not seem to keep their video camera level for the closing shot. The home looks great, but the camera angle is so severe that it looks like someone standing inside the home might just slide right out the front door.
Another clue that you are getting a Rodney Dangerfield style “no respect” is when the same local news channel is trying to give “mobile homes” – think air quotes, but actual quotes too – and uses the term “mobile home” when the HUD Code standards in the U.S. it officially ended the mobile home era, transforming them into manufactured homes since June 15, 1976.
You know you are the Rodney Dangerfield of affordable housing when housing “experts” misuse terminology, incorrectly conflating the “mobile home” name instead of “manufactured homes” — and other real experts who know better stopped caring about the terminology blunder because it happens so often.
But there are more serious examples of the ways that manufactured housing gets Dangerfield style “no respect.”
The Duty to Serve manufactured housing was supposed to compel the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make lower interest rate loans with favorable terms. That became law as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008. Note the idea of the law was to increase affordability and thus give a path for more renters to become manufactured homeowners, right?
But in true Rodney Dangerfield style, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) somehow allowed the GSEs of Fannie and Freddie under two different administrations (Democratic and Republican) to thwart the law.
For example, the FHFA allow of wealthy manufactured home community operators or huge private equity hedge funds to use those Fannie and Freddie loans to finance manufactured home communities. Not the single family manufactured homes, but rather, the entire communities. Huh? Meanwhile, the lenders like 21st Mortgage Corp that arguably benefit from that process celebrate the fact that the GSE “pilot projects” to do what the law actually mandated failed.
When wealthy community owners or private equity capital used those GSE loans to buy previously affordable manufactured home communities, and then once acquired, the new owners give stiff site fee (pad rental) hikes to their residents – that is no respect. Thus, a federal law designed to create more affordable housing made residents in certain manufactured home communities less affordable. Think I’m kidding? Just see for yourself what residents and experts said in the report linked below.
Back to Hannah Yechivi’s report for NEWS CENTER Maine in the second video above, “A lot of these homes are basically on their own piece of land, so whether a home is in a park, or on land, it is typically a little bit less expensive to buy,” said Tom Cole, president of the Maine Association of Realtors. A little less expensive? Tom! How about often half the price of conventional housing?
Even Cole corrects essentially himself when he said, “If you are spending tens of thousands to buy a mobile home [i.e.: a HUD Code manufactured home], versus say in the Brunswick area, roughly 300,000 [dollars] for the average sale price for a home, it really does make a difference for people.” Ya think?
Gary Jordan is a broker and realtor in Bangor, ME. Jordan, speaking about manufactured homes, explained that “They are selling just like single-family homes are selling right now, they have all the convenience inside of them so some of that attracts a lot of people.”
It is time that those of us who care about affordable manufactured homes and their residents face the facts.
Manufactured Homes too often appear to be the Rodney Dangerfield of affordable housing. But there might be good news in that, because Rodney made himself famous with his “no respect” shtick. Maybe manufactured homes can become more famous and accepted by using a little satirical sarcasm too?
Respect, Bill. Respect.
Hey, if it is good enough for the rich and famous, it is good enough for you and me.
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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.
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