There are numbers of independently researched studies that have occurred over the past two decades that have a surprisingly similar common theme and result. Modern manufactured homes are proven time and again to defy the common stereotypes. For those who want to prove it to themselves, we organized the “Ultimate Collection” of third-party manufactured home research that are downloadable from the report linked below.
Those research reports found at the link above cover hundreds and hundreds of pages of university level or governmental research. That can’t easily be summarized. But the significant pull quote below from Scholastica “Gay” Cororaton below gives you a tiny sense of the surprising difference between what the general public perception is and what objective reality tells us. The other quotes shed light too. Note that no one claims that manufactured homes are perfect. Nothing produced in this life is perfect. But a manufactured home does what it is supposed to do. Manufactured homes provide quality, affordable and often appealing shelter that can be owned by millions of people that are otherwise trapped in rental housing and/or would have to buy an older ‘fixer upper’ site-built house.
The couple in the video above that was interviewed wanted nothing to do with “trailer house” living, because the husband grew up in one. But when they discovered what manufactured homes were like today, that is exactly what they bought. Facts – reality – turned their thinking upside down, a good example of topsy-turvy. The realtor interviewed in the video below has a husband who is a custom builder. She has a potential bias against manufactured homes, because it seemingly competes with her husband’s work. But she has sold hundreds of manufactured homes to her clients, along with conventional housing, because she sees the value. Real estate agent Linda Hazelhoff looks beyond the impressions to the facts.
Reality is often quite different, topsy-turvy, upside down, from what is imagined. Among the researchers in the Ultimate collection noted above and linked again here is Richard Genz. Like so many others, what he found was quite different than the mistaken notions many people have been led to think.
Now, a question for thinking people should arise from even that brief survey of quotes and videos. If people who have studied the manufactured home quality, durability, safety and value issues who are operating from an unbiased perspective have routinely found manufactured homes to be a good value that defies stereotypes, that should make thinking people sit up and take notice. Plus, there are those that bought a manufactured home that are among the rich and famous who could own whatever they wanted. They enjoy their manufactured home living, just as ‘everyday’ people routinely do. Which begs the question, why aren’t there more of them being sold? Why is there still so much controversy about mobile or manufactured home living?
Hold those questions in mind, because we will answer that shortly.
For all the useful third-party research that has been performed, someone would have to be blind not to notice a periodic but steady drum beat of problematic news reporting on mobile and manufactured homes.
Let’s first note that there have been no true mobile homes built in the USA since June 15, 1976. That’s a fact, not an opinion, because there are legal definitions for the various kinds of housing. Attorney and manufactured home advocate Steve Duke sums it up nicely in the quote below, which we’ve illustrated.
So where does the bad news originate from? In part, ignorance. People misunderstand terminology, including the meaning of the word “ignorant.” We are all ignorant about many things. It just means that there are topics or ideas we know little or nothing about. Here is how one online Google dictionary defined “ignorant” – meaning – “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.” That term fits me and us all on any number of topics. We are not ‘know it alls.’ We are humans, not God.
So, once we humbly admit that there are things that we don’t know, it becomes easier to open the mind and learn about something that we might have a mistaken impression about. The first point here is simple. Words have meaning. Terminology should be used properly. A trailer house is not the same as a manufactured home. A mobile home is not the same as a manufactured home. That may be common usage, but that is still incorrect terminology.
A short but clever definition comes from the National Fire Protection Association, which did research that revealed that manufactured homes are far safer than the mobile homes of yesteryear and about as safe – perhaps slightly safer – than conventionally built housing.
A more formal set of definitions are found below.
Beyond misinformation, misunderstanding or problematic terminology – the later of which often incorrectly blurs and confuses the kinds of factory-built housing – there are also actual occurrences that sadly adds to the confusion. In fact, the case can be made that much of the confusion and problematic views about manufactured housing rests with two broad categories of so-called ‘black hats’ or ‘bad actors.’ MHLivingNews, as industry experts, would allege the following:
- There are significant numbers of companies that nonprofit organizations that contribute to and/or allow or tolerate behavior that is harmful to consumers and to honest ‘white hat’ competitors.
- There are public officials that fail to do their jobs in protecting the public interest in these matters. When there is illegal or improper behavior, that is what laws are for – to punish the guilty. Laws should not be used to punish the innocent and guilty alike. Nor should a lack of enforcement of a given law allow the innocent to suffer while the guilty prosper.
In about 900 words, the above has outlined what is right and what is wrong in the most proven form of affordable housing, namely, manufactured homes. The related reports that are linked from this article and from below the byline shed more light on these topics.
Let’s sum up. The most proven permanent form of affordable housing in U.S. history are manufactured homes, which evolved from the mobile homes and trailer houses of yesteryear. Here is how Danny Ghorbani, a five-decade veteran of the industry phrased it.
“The manufactured housing industry did not become the legitimate and affordable housing of today from the trailers of yesteryear THROUGH REVOLUTION, BUT RATHER THROUGH EVOLUTION, thus, establishing a long and rich history of success, which many in the industry today tend to distort and/or forget altogether in order to fit what is to their own benefit. We must not allow this to occur.”
Ghorbani served as a vice-president with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) before leaving that association and becoming the first president and CEO of what today is known as the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).
The mobile homes and even the trailer houses of yesteryear should not be denigrated. They should be celebrated for what they accomplished in their era. Just as affordable housing is needed today, it was needed in years past too.
But as people began to live in those less expensive forms of housing for longer and longer periods of time, issues of safety and durability with some, not all, producers of those homes became an issue. That is what gave rise to the HUD Code for manufactured housing. Ghorbani’s recent statement to this publication cited above is quite right, it was an evolutionary process.
He is also arguably correct that some have tried to hijack this part of the affordable housing industry for some years. Private equity in and of itself can be used for good, problematic or other causes. Private equity aren’t automatically dirty words. But if private equity is misused to dominate an industry and take advantage of thousands of those living in manufactured home communities that often lived happy lives for years or decades before ‘vulture capitalists’ swooped in and dramatically raised costs, that is a genuine problem.
Money – like TV, the internet, radio or many other things – is neutral. How it is used, for good or ill, that is the question. Those seeking affordable housing ought to explore the manufactured home option in their desire area.
Those who find that there are honest, white hat companies working in their desire area should seek to work with them in making their home purchase.
Those who want a manufactured home but find only black hat options available, should consider turning to public officials and share this article. They should demand that good laws be enforced. The issues and answers are laid out in reports that follow.
Finally, those who live in a pre-HUD Code mobile home or a post-HUD Code manufactured home should consider turning to public officials too. There is no need to pass new legislation. Existing laws are sufficient, if they are properly enforced.
Money is often power in this country and so many others. Money can buy political influence. But at the end of the day, politicians still need voters to vote them in or out of office.
It is in literally in most taxpayers, other home owners and other’s best interest that there be more manufactured homes. As tent cities pop up and spread in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, the choice is becoming ever clearer. When affordable manufactured homes are allowed, those problems are rare. When affordable manufactured homes are de facto barred, homelessness spreads.
See the related reports for more on each of these themes. Only clarity of information and thinking will bring proven solutions to the topsy-turvy impressions and behavior that so many have fostered or allowed to occur. “What is wrong,” said the great British thinker G.K. Chesterton, “is that we do not ask what is right.” Let’s seek, find and work for what’s right. ## “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, lifestyle news, 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
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.