Washington Post – Protests of HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Manufactured Housing Institute, by MHAction, New York Communities for Change, CarsonWatch – An Inside Look

A recent Washington Post (WP, the Post, or WaPo) report about a recent protest made it clear that manufactured housing is an important part of the solution to the growing affordable housing crisis in the USA.

Here is part of what the WP report said.

JulietEilperinWashingtonPostManufacturedHomeLivingNewsThe average price of a “stick-built” home in January was $382,700, according to the Census Bureau, compared to about $70,000 for the average manufactured home. Once derided as “mobile homes,” these edifices are increasingly seen as attractive housing options for retirees and low-income residents,” wrote award-winning writer, Juliet Eilperin.

The [manufactured housing industry lobbying] efforts have come as [Trump] administration officials are embracing manufactured homes as a way to increase the stocks of affordable housing using the private sector rather than taxpayer funding,” said Eilperin.

Already, they [manufactured homes] serve as the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in America, with 22 million Americans living in structures ranging from trailers to high-end homes with ample amenities.”

While the use of the word “trailers” is not technically correct, the thrust of the above is quite accurate.


Protestors came to disrupt the speech of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, MD. WaPo makes it clear that federal officials in the Trump Administration see the wisdom of using private enterprise to fix a problem that tax dollars alone has been unable to resolve after over 50 years of efforts.

Eilperin reported that Carson told a Senate hearing in March that Pam Danner, who had been the administrator of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP), had been imposing regulations that were “ridiculous.”  She wrote that “industry officials say HUD has pushed impractical policies, often at odds with its own advisory board’s recommendations, that would boost the cost of their products without significantly improving their safety.”

Of course, the manufactured housing industry would protest that, they were items that drive up costs without providing any significant added benefits. Keeping quality high, and costs low, just makes sense.

To sum up, Secretary Carson is trying to use private money to help provide more affordable housing, by eliminating “ridiculous” regulations that provided no more safety or other benefits. If that claim is acted upon, then the result will be what Carson and Senator Thom Tillis said would happen in Senate testimony.  Namely, that more federal money would be available for those truly in need.

When the first of several protesters disrupted his speech, shouting, “I need housing, where will I live?” – said Eilperin’s narrative. Those MHAction – and other protesters – claimed they wanted more affordable housing. That’s what Secretary Carson is attempting to provide more of, by allowing private businesses to build more money-saving manufactured homes.


Federal Data Proves Quality

MarkWeissJDPresidentCEOManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReformManufacturedHomeLivingNewsThe Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) said in memo from their president, Mark Weiss, JD, “MHARR observed that according to HUD’s federal dispute resolution [DR] contractor, of the 123,174 HUD Code manufactured homes placed in 23 federally-administered dispute resolution (DR) “default” states between 2008 and 2014, only 24 homes — or .019% — were referred to federal dispute resolution, a process encompassing, and available to, homeowners, producers and installers.  Of those 24 referrals, only 3 – or .002% — were found to actually qualify for dispute resolution under applicable HUD regulations. Given those undisputed facts, MHARR pointed out that federal DR referrals “are a direct barometer of compliance with the relevant construction and installation standards, and the responsiveness of regulated parties (including manufacturers, installers and retailers) to homebuyers.”

What that means is that federal data proves the quality of modern manufactured homes.

Note that no other kind of conventional housing gives the kind of federally enforced “Dispute Resolution” (DR) that buyers of a manufactured home get. That DR program – which is rarely needed or used – is the ultimate proof of manufactured home quality, and customer satisfaction.

Manufactured housing is doing its job. WaPo quotes Secretary Carson called today’s manufactured homes “amazing” in his March Senate testimony.

So, what explains the protesters attempts to disrupt Carson’s address?

Behind the ideological struggle lies a serious policy debate that deeply affects both manufacturers and buyers of manufactured homes,” observed Eilperin in her WaPo narrative.

Carson Watch was mentioned, but not MHAction in Eilperin’s report. But a variety of leftist publications specifically mention MHAction, and the New York Communities for Change (NYCC).


Affordable Quality Housing is Non-Partisan, a Step Back for Perspective

Regular ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com readers know that among manufactured home owners there are:

  • the rich, famous, and frugal own manufactured homes,
  • that millionaires and even billionaires own and enjoy their manufactured homes,
  • that most of the 22 million Americans living in a pre-HUD Code mobile home or manufactured home (MH) – with about 1 in 5 of those living in an actual mobile home – are middle class, retirees. students, or working class.
  • That the most affordable permanent housing in the U.S. is a manufactured home, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) research.

Study after study – many of those research documents found in MHLivingNews.com – prove the appeal, quality, value, safety, energy efficiency, and durability of manufactured homes (MH) today.

So, when the need is so great, and manufactured homes (MH) are proven, why is there so much problematic news about MH?

That’s not a five-minute topic. But one of the reasons is the hijacking of the nonpartisan issue of quality, affordable manufactured homes by professional, often leftist protest groups which recruit people to protest…whatever.

Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and those who could care less about politics all live in and enjoy manufactured home living. The full political spectrum works and invests in the manufactured housing industry.

You don’t have to hold to any political, religious, economic, racial, or other group to find value in manufactured homes.  The Washington Post summary of the value compared to conventional housing is an accurate one.

As in any industry or profession, there are typically mostly good people who are trying to earn an honest living. Then, as in any industry, there will be some who don’t behave as society or the law would desire or require.

So, to be fair, sometimes respectful protests, letter writing, political action, etc. may be justified and useful.

With that factual background, let’s take a brief look at MHAction, New York Communities for Change and a number of their allied groups.

Because their own video makes it clear that they came to deliberately “disrupt” – their word – the April 25, 2018 address by HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D. to manufactured housing industry professionals and investors.


The Road to Hell

The First Amendment protects the rights of the people to peacefully assemble, protest, engage in free speech, or freedom of the press. All of those constitutional guarantees are what Thomas Jefferson called our “God-given” rights, that a just government should protect.

Editorially, MHLivingNews agrees with and respect those rights.  We think those rights are worth protecting.

Logically, that means that a smaller group of about 75 people should not enter a meeting of over 1000 people with the expressed purpose of making the speakers job difficult.

Those roughly 75 protesters were trying to deny the rights of those attendees of Secretary Carson to peacefully assemble and hear what the world renowned pediatric brain surgeon had to say.

There is a saying among adults that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

There are no doubt some who join a group like MHAction with good intentions. They sincerely believe that they are joining a group that is trying to effect positive change.

But someone can be sincere and still be mistaken, misled, wrong, or unjust.

At the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) final event in Las Vegas, MHAction and company struck to disrupt.

Protesting outdoors, that’s their constitutionally protected right. Disrupting Secretary Carson’s address? That disrespected the rights of over 1000 attendees, and that of Carson himself.  FYI, the evidence suggests that this group had many that were not manufactured home residents or owners.

MHAction did so in concert with New York Communities for Change (NYCC), and several other leftist groups.  Their own video and information makes it clear that they came with the expressed intent to deliberately disrupted the address by Secretary Ben Carson, M.D. MHAction and their allies wanted to get news coverage in the process.

MHProNews sources tell us the Washington Post had much of the research for their article already in hand prior to the April 25, 2018 protests by MHAction. The article was published just days after the protest. Was that a coincidence?

Or did Pam Danner and her leftist allies try to embarrass Secretary Carson, for having her removed from her job as the administrator over the HUD Code Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP)?


About MHAction

MHAction was unheard of just a few years ago, and has in recent years stormed onto the media stage, as often as they could get a protest to grab a headline.

Note how MHAction – in their video below – edited in a montage of other media reports, before they present their own video.  That’s done in a way to make it look like they were part of that media attention.

Who are they?

KevinBordenExecDirMHAction-TheHill-postedManufacturedHousingIndustryInFocusMHProNews300x458MHLivingNews asked Kevin Borden, their executive director, and a colleague of his to explain where their funding comes from. We also asked them were the protesters all members of their group, or where they from a variety of groups?

MHAction – which has replied to our inquiries before – declined to answer those questions, even though some of the information is available on their own website.

There is no evidence as of this time that specifically says where the MHAction money comes from. But Borden used to work for New York Communities for Change, before he started MHAction.

According to Influence Watch, “After ACORN folded amid numerous controversies in 2010, the community organizing network divided into city- and state-specific labor activist groups, many keeping staff from the original ACORN offices. New York Communities for Change was no exception.”

JonathanWestinNewYorkCommunitiesForChangeExecDirNYFoundationPostedManufacturedHousingIndustryManufacturedHomeLivingNewsPer a Fox News report “identified NYCC as a key organizing force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Sources within the group also told FoxNews.com NYCC was hiring people to carry signs and join the protests. NYCC — a nonprofit organization run almost entirely by former ACORN officials and employees…A source said that immediately following publication of the FoxNews.com report staff were called into the Brooklyn office for meetings headed by NYCC’s organizing director, Jonathan Westin.”

Westin and Kevin Borden have targeted manufactured housing businesses before.

NYCC had revenues of over $4 million dollars in 2015, per their own IRS Form 990.  Did some of that NYCC money end up helping MHAction?


What is certain is that a variety of leftist groups were touted by leftist media as protesting Carson and those manufactured housing industry professionals. Speaking up or publishing is their right. But their disrupting a meeting to try to get attention arguably violated the rights of the speaker and attendees.

When you look at how many groups came, if the attendees were fairly evenly split among each group, then very few manufactured home owners from MHAction were involved.  Per Our Future:

Groups participating in the event included:

  • MHAction,
  • People’s Action,
  • CarsonWatch,
  • Center for Popular Democracy,
  • Right to the City/Homes for All,
  • POWER,
  • LA Community Action Network,
  • Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE),
  • Miami Workers Center,
  • Jane Addams Senior Caucus,
  • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada,
  • Make the Road Nevada,
  • Make it Work Nevada,
  • SEIU Nevada,
  • NextGen America,
  • For Nevada’s Future,
  • Make the Road Nevada,
  • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment,
  • and New York Communities for Change.

Why didn’t those MHAction and affiliated protesters do their thing outside the conference center?

Why didn’t they respect the rights of the speaker, or conference attendees?

Was it to posture for the cameras?  Their own video camera, that of reporters, or others?

But what this does is give MHLivingNews an opportunity to show the reality that the Washington Post report highlighted:

  • WaPo underscored the importance of manufactured housing,
  • and indirectly demonstrated that the professionally organized protestors were arguably posturing more than legitimately protesting.
  • Because Secretary Carson and those professionals are working day-by-day to advance the cause of affordable, quality, manufactured home living.

That’s what the facts appear to point to at this time. So, when you hear about protests about manufactured housing, keep the background of this report in mind. Because in this case, the protestors may or may not be people who live in a manufactured home.

Plus the federal data presented by Mark Weiss at MHARR reminds us that the homes are quality, with only a tiny fraction of a percent of complaints. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)

(Third party images, and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

Anti-MH Industry MHAction Protesters Have Struck Manufactured Housing Again, and Again

…but the keen insights to the reality of manufactured home living, is in these focus group videos of actual MH owners and residents.

Affordable Housing Focus Group – Comparing Housing Options – Conventional Houses, Condo, Rentals, and Manufactured Homes – Up for Growth, National Association of Realtor, Studies

Affordable Housing Focus Group

The Ultimate Manufactured Home Industry Fact$, Data, and Insights – Bullets plus at-a-Glance Infographic

Manufactured Home Owners – Satisfaction Survey Redux

Foremost Report: Manufactured Home Customer Survey and Market Facts

A. “Tony” Kovach at an MH educational session. Tony is one of the most recognized experts on MH today. 

L. A. “Tony” Kovach is the publisher of MHLivingNews.com, and MHProNews.com, the leading trade publications for consumers, manufactured homeowners, MH industry leaders, investors and public policy professionals who want up-to-date lifestyle and business news.

Check Also


‘Inexcusable and Major Problem’ Exclusive MHLivingNews Question and Answer (Q&A) with Mark Weiss, J.D., President, and CEO of Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)

In the legal world, the difference between one word and another can be significant. The …