“Superficiality is the curse of the modern world.”
– Matthew Kelly,
author and business consultant, per Quote Fancy.
Per some informed sources, the COVID19 pandemic is going to accelerate the need for more affordable housing. Thus, this topic may be timelier than ever before.
But before diving into it, Matthew Kelly has an apt point. If someone skips the details, too much is missed. Here on MHLivingNews, we routinely look at evidence presented in a step-by-step and common-sense manner.
Perhaps one of the most famous Pogo cartoons by the artist Walt Kelly is the one where he used the phrase, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
That phrase has been applied to topics other than the environment, but here is key panel that famous cartoon under the photo of the artist, Walt Kelly.
Generations have made the same mistakes time and again. Who wants to be in the group that keeps repeating past errors? To avoid a repeating trap, one must first recognize the signs of a swindle and understand the solutions to the problem.
The ‘enemy’ is often someone trusted that is not a ‘friend,’ but rather is a betrayer. It has been so for thousands of years as the quote from Cicero below reflects.
MHLivingNews and our MHProNews professional sister site have made a simple point for years. Given the implementation of a few basic and common-sense steps a steady and radically positive transformation of the affordable housing landscape would occur. That could be achieved without massive government programs. It would be largely done by privately invested funds which with sufficient competition would keep costs reasonable.
By turning renters into affordable homeowners that would create equity for millions who are otherwise stuck in rental housing. Problems like income inequality, or a lack of housing security would steadily diminish.
The irony is that the laws needed to do this already exist. The reports linked above and below detail the laws needed and how they have arguably been thwarted from within by those who could be called traitors to the affordable housing cause. Hold on to that very important notion. Evidence for that assertion is linked above and below.
The most proven form of permanent affordable housing in the U.S. is demonstrably manufactured homes. Who says? Literally decades of third-party researchers.
Yet, for some superficially inexplicable reasons those reports and their authors have either never been, or once were but are now no longer featured on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) association website.
The evidence reflects that MHI arguably fails to properly promote such university and federal level research is either massively inept and/or a betrayal. The question that should be asked is this. Is such routine failure by MHI the industry’s version of Pogo? Are enemies of manufactured housing found within the industry’s own ranks? If so, what would be their reasons for undermining their own stated cause?
Quoting Frank Rolfe should not be construed as endorsing him or his firm’s business practices. That disclaimer said, Rolfe – an MHI member – said the following.
Here is Rolfe on stage in a video politely making the same point.
Rolfe may not use this quote from Thoreau as we do, but for newcomers, it can be an eye opener.
Hold those thoughts, as we now pivot to the essential four legs of the metaphorical stool that could transform modern manufactured homes into a bright spot in an otherwise largely dim economy. That in turn will be followed by the balance of the headline topic.
- Overcome zoning/placement issues. Ironically, this is already accomplished by bipartisan lawmakers through the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000. The problem is, MHI isn’t routinely and robustly pushing for it, and the law is languishing. But MHI used to promote this years ago. Why aren’t they doing so now?
- Affordable and reasonable access to financing. Once again, this was already legally enacted in the Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing mandated for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises or GSEs – which the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is supposed to oversee. But that too is being subverted or ignored, as the report linked here details. There are other federal lending programs too that exist, so why is it that they too have been allowed to fester and languish which allows Berkshire Hathaway lenders to make what many have called “predatory” profits that disproportionately harm minorities?
- False impressions undermine the ‘image of manufactured housing so they must be corrected based upon facts and evidence. Enough said on that for now.
- Organized efforts pushing back on false claims or an abuse of the system could make the difference in each of the points above. The more people who either own a manufactured home, want affordable housing, or are advocates on some level for these issues organize in a factual and sustained way, the better.
That brings us to the rest of the headline topic. Because there is already a living example of the fourth bullet above.
What the RV/MH Hall of Fame Says About Danny Ghorbani
then President and CEO of the
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in Washington DC was inducted into the RV/MH (Mobile and Manufactured Home) Hall of Fame in 2004.
Ghorbani’s career has spanned over 5 decades. Per the RV/MH Hall of Fame, in its less arguably less politicized timeframe before Berkshire Hathaway influences were flexed their, said of Ghorbani that the “industry veteran with a background in structural engineering, he served first as chief of design services and then Director of the Supplier Division of the Mobile Homes Manufacturers Association. While in the land development division of MHMA, he is recognized as having, with his team, planned, designed and engineered over 200,000 residential sites for manufactured homes in less than 4 years. He also served as a Vice President of the Manufactured Housing Institute where he was the institute’s marketing representative in U.S. and international markets and he also produced and managed the association’s shows and conventions.
He is recognized as a long time champion of manufactured housing causes on both technical and policy issues. As the CEO of MHARR for the past 20 years, he has been instrumental in leading the way for improvement to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Act, (known as the HUD code) and was instrumental in the development and passage of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.”
That statement was made before the influence of Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes began to be asserted at the RV MH Hall of Fame to the level that purportedly is today. It is entirely possible that Ghorbani – in today’s environment – might not get an award at all from that same institution, because the ‘donations’ by Clayton to the hall – per sources – has so much influence over the Elkhart, Indiana based museum and heritage foundation.
That noted, the following was a news release provided to MHProNews at the time of Danny Ghorbani’s retirement from MHARR. It is shared because it outlines more of the history of this individual. It will be followed by additional comments and analysis from MHLivingNews.
WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 20, 2014 — Danny D. Ghorbani, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) will be retiring effective December 31, 2014.
A 46-year veteran of the manufactured housing industry who has served since 1985 as the first and only President & CEO of MHARR, Ghorbani was asked by the MHARR Board of Directors — and has agreed — to continue as the Association’s Senior Advisor on national policies. Further, to ensure a totally seamless transition and uninterrupted continuation of the Association’s national policies and activities, the Board has selected the Association’s current Senior Vice President, Mark Weiss, to be MHARR’s new President and CEO effective January 1, 2015.
Making this announcement in Washington D.C., MHARR Chairman John Bostick stated that “In his 46 years of service to and representation of the manufactured housing industry, Danny Ghorbani has contributed tremendously to the advancement and evolution of all aspects of our industry. We wish him and his family a well-deserved and enjoyable retirement, knowing that he will continue assisting MHARR and the industry going forward.”
A Structural and Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Illinois, Ghorbani was first recruited as a member of the professional team assembled by the City of Chicago’s legendry Mayor, Richard J. Daley, to re-design the city’s aging trunnion bascule bridges. A year later in 1968, Ghorbani was recruited by the Mobile Home Manufacturers Association (since re-named the Manufactured Housing Institute) to work with a team of planners, landscape architects and engineers as the Project Engineer and Chief of Design Services for a new program to plan, design and engineer modern manufactured home residential developments and communities throughout the United States in order to meet increasing consumer demand and the rapid growth of the industry.
Four years, and some 200,000+ engineered manufactured housing sites later, on his way to Georgia Tech University to take a teaching position and complete his post-graduate studies, Ghorbani was asked by MHMA leaders to remain with the Association, take charge of its transition from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, D.C., and be part of the industry’s entry into the federal arena. Ghorbani accepted this challenge and stayed with the Association, where he began twelve years of wide-ranging activities and responsibilities on behalf of the manufactured housing industry, including, among other things, managing the industry’s 600+ company-strong suppliers group, the industry’s two national shows and expositions (with the then-national manufactured housing show in Louisville, Kentucky being the 5th largest indoor trade show and exposition in the United States for four consecutive years), and serving as the industry’s representative and liaison to various international housing forums and negotiations.
Then, in 1985, when a group of industry visionaries and pioneers concluded that the fledging federal manufactured housing program was rapidly veering off-course, they selected Ghorbani as the President and CEO of their newly formed association (MHARR) to chart a bold, new and different direction for the industry in Washington, D.C. Fully aware that the initial federal law — patterned after the automobile industry — and its corresponding regulatory excesses coupled with discrimination against the industry and its consumers had drastically hampered industry growth, MHARR began devising and aggressively advancing national policies that gradually gained ground and credibility for the industry with officials, lawmakers and consumers in the Nation’s Capital. This effort culminated with the passage of the landmark Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, signed into law by President Clinton on December 27, 2000, recognizing manufactured homes, for the first time, as affordable, legitimate “housing.”
A staunch advocate for fair treatment of manufactured housing and its consumers, with a watchful eye to protect the delicate balance between consumer protection and affordability, Ghorbani has, for nearly five decades, been a leader, fighting for fair and reasonable industry regulation and elimination of all discrimination against the industry and its consumers.
In Washington, D.C., Ghorbani said: ”It has been a privilege and honor to work for, represent and advance an industry that I love and a product that I truly believe in.” He continued, “but the real reward for me personally has been and will continue to be the literally thousands of friends and supporters that I have been fortunate enough to know and work closely with in advancing this great industry.”
There is more history about this man that could be unpacked. But that is sufficient at this time for sharing the following, which is essential to understand how the affordable housing crisis can be successfully addressed.
The quote from Ghorbani below explains the importance of the history of this industry. While the video above from CBS News misuses some terminology, because there have been no mobile homes built in the U.S. since June 15, 1976, it overall does a good job of contrasting the evolution that MHARR’s founding president speaks about.
No one report will cover all that has arguably gone wrong in manufactured housing. No one interview will paint the entire picture either. But the Q&A below is the first of a planned series that was launched on our professional sister-site, MHProNews.com. It will shed light on the critical topic of financing for manufactured housing from someone who has been involved in this industry for over 50 years.
MHProNews. It’s now been roughly 12 years since the “Duty to Serve” (DTS) mandate was passed by Congress as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008. HERA’s DTS mandate required that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make financing affordable housing preservation, rural, and for HUD Code manufactured homes. Can you provide our readers some insight into the history of this matter and specifically how it relates to the ongoing failure of the GSEs to fully implement that law in accordance with its terms. In framing your reply, let’s set aside community financing and FHFA’s role in this for now, and focus on the what some call posturing and confusion which we’ve seen from the GSEs instead?
Ghorbani: This may or may not come as a surprise to you and your readers, but in my opinion, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, don’t have very much interest in the Manufactured Housing industry, and I doubt they would ever get involved in manufactured housing in a market-significant way (i.e., large volume), securitizing loans for mainstream affordable HUD code manufactured homes. And, more specifically, they are even less interested in securitizing the industry’s most affordable homes that are financed through personal property (chattel) loans and represent nearly 80% of our industry’s homebuyers — mostly moderate and lower income American families.
To be sure, they continue to go through the motions. They’ve “engaged” with the industry, attending and sponsoring industry events, shows, seminars and meetings on top of meetings, sweet-talking the industry and even some consumer organizations. They’ve provided targeted programs for the high-end/expensive homes built by the industry’s largest conglomerates. They’ve done endless public relations, pushing all the right buttons, etc., etc., etc. — anything and everything except securitizing loans (be it mortgage type, but more importantly chattel) for mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes in a market-significant way for moderate and lower American homebuyers — which, incidentally, is the main reason for their (i.e., Fannie and Freddie) existence…as stated in their respective charters.
My long held belief and opinion regarding their outlook and lack of interest in manufactured housing is based on personal observations and experience in dealing with them going back nearly forty years. There is a history here that not very many stakeholders (especially the newcomers and “wanna-be”-experts) are aware of, and cannot be ignored going forward if Fannie and Freddie are to be held accountable in full and complete compliance with their statutorily-mandated duty to serve the manufactured housing industry and the moderate and lower income families who rely on manufactured housing as the only means to own a home of their own. This history goes way back before we formed the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in 1985, when I was with Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for nearly two decades, and my many responsibilities included the management of the industry’s Annual National Show and Exposition in Louisville, KY every January. We used to bring GSE personnel to the show to see the new model homes, attend meetings and seminars, talk to industry folks, answer their questions…any and all relevant matters that would engage them with the industry in the hope that they would initiate some type of market-significant securitization of manufactured home loans. Again, and as usual, they did all the right things, as noted earlier, but nothing substantive ever happened.
Now, fast forward to the mid-2000s when the lack of an aggressive, independent National Post Production Association resulted in major set-backs for the industry in consumer financing for its homes (not to mention failures on such critical matters as SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank, which continue to haunt the industry to date), thus drawing MHARR into the consumer finance arena. The Association’s collective knowledge of the relevant consumer finance history, institutional memory and experience with Fannie and Freddie became quite effective in demonstrating to both Houses of Congress that they had to mandate an end to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s discrimination against the Manufactured Housing Industry and its consumers, and start serving this industry as a “DUTY” — thus the enactment of “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” (DTS) as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).
Unfortunately, though, nearly twelve years after the passage of DTS, because of the continuing absence of an aggressive, dedicated and independent national association representing the interests of retailers, communities and finance entities, coupled with the deployment of multiple schemes, excuses and creative methods of dodging by Fannie and Freddie, and given their very weak and ineffective regulator, the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA), the two GSEs have been able to stymie the full and proper implementation of the law, thus, once again, depriving moderate and lower American families of homeownership, while forcing them into what former Congressman Barney Frank used to refer to as “predatory lending.”
Based on all of this, do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac really look like two organizations that are truly interested in securitizing market-significant volumes of affordable loans for moderate and lower income American homebuyers in accordance with their own charters and the mandate handed to them by DTS law? The simple answer is a resounding “no.”
Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s ongoing behavior vis-a-vis the Manufactured Housing Industry and consumers of affordable housing is a disgrace. Their unreasonable and expensive proposals that are only favorable to the largest conglomerates in this industry is a ruse and an insult to the hardworking Americans who cannot afford to purchase those more expensive homes. All of this is unacceptable and must be rejected not only by the industry and consumers, but by the Administration, Congress and FHFA…and the sooner the better.”
— End of Q &A —
MHLivingNews Closing Analysis and Commentary
The manufactured home industry has people that posture as ‘friends’ of the industry, and then there are those who’s entire lives have been devoted to the “evolution” of manufactured homes from the trailer house period through to the mobile home years and now into the manufactured housing era.
What people like Ghorbani can reveal is how the industry’s authentic efforts have at various times been subverted by people inside our industry, in related professions, or even inside the federal government.
The first step in problem solving is understanding the problems. Once the issues are fully understood, the solutions – in the case of manufactured housing – becomes clear. They are summed up in those four bullets above.
But an important point to remember from this column is that there are arguably traitors to the industry.
It is thus important for those who have proven to be the friends of consumers and ‘white hat’ independents to be understood and heard. It is worth stressing that each of the companies in John Oliver’s viral video in the report linked below were MHI member companies. The argument can thus be made that the ‘enemy’ of affordable housing includes the ‘big boys’ who run MHI.
It is simply not possible for manufactured housing to be struggling as it does given the good laws that already exists – unless there are conflicts of interest, subterfuge and tactics being deployed that make a few richer while harming the many. To understand the industry, one must grasp the premise that by undermining honest independents, a few are making money at the expense of consumers and honest companies.
Manufactured homes are indeed “Improved Living for Less” ©. By unpacking the facts, that reality is made plain.
By exposing what is wrong and focusing on what is right the evolution of the solution could achieve its ultimate success. “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.