Manufactured homes are the most proven form of affordable housing in America today, period. Nothing else comes close. That is not an empty or boastful claim. Rather, that statement is based on decades of well-documented facts and evidence. There are numerous research studies, mostly from third parties to manufactured home interests, that document that some 22 million Americans live in ‘manufactured homes’ that are largely unsubsidized housing. Millions of those homes were built to federal standards by businesses that had third-party inspectors. Those businesses sold them for about half the cost per square foot of conventional construction. There are millionaires and even a few billionaires that are known to own and live in a manufactured home. Those rich and famous people could choose to live in another form of housing, but they chose a manufactured home instead. Manufactured homes have an impressive history that includes the only federally preemptive building code in the U.S. today. That national building code is a performance-based code that includes third-party inspections and strong consumer guarantees. By law, manufactured home must be demonstrably be as safe, energy efficient, and durable as conventional housing. That building code is administrated at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is why this form of construction is sometimes referred to as “HUD Code” manufactured homes. Installations of HUD Code manufactured homes are administered in partnership with states. During a widely acknowledge affordable housing crisis, this is a form of housing worth fighting for, but more on that later herein.
Manufactured homes are similar to but also different than conventional housing in various ways. To borrow the old Arby’s slogan, different can be good. But again, by law, those differences do not sacrifice durability, safety, or energy standards. The HUD Code was designed to provide innovation that kept manufactured homes affordable.
Sadly, among the research that has been done, perhaps some of the weakest and at times misleading reports are arguably from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Oddly, while this platform – Mobile and Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) produced a resource page some years ago that links numerous third-party research on manufactured housing, MHI’s own website routinely lacks that same third-party information. Evidence for that statement is found in reports like those linked here. More on the well-documented controversies involving manufactured home community living and dominating brands like Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes are linked as shown, with more information found herein.
It must be stressed that several, but not all, of the brands that routinely produce troubling headlines are connected with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). As MHLivingNews’ ground breaking research demonstrated, John Oliver’s viral video hit on Clayton Homes, Frank Rolfe, and other “predatory” brands in our industry involved members of MHI. When asked to respond to those and other evidence-based allegations, MHI, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton Homes and their inside/outside attorneys declined. More on that later, but it is safe to say for now that there are authentic and ersatz advocates for manufactured housing and manufactured home residents. Indeed, the case has been made that MHI encourages membership precisely to create a networking opportunity for smaller brands to be acquired or “consolidated” by larger brands, which often have a problematic or “predatory” history.
Indeed, summed up in that paragraph above with reports linked to the evidence are some of the problems that inherently affordable manufactured housing faces. On MHLivingNews, and on our professional-investors focused sister site – MHProNews – we do not shy away from dealing with genuine problems and vexing controversies.
Nor do we shy away from reporting the good news about modern manufactured homes.
Further below will be some of the many third-party research reports that are available today about contemporary manufactured homes. There will be two video interviews that feature a white-hat independent plus manufactured home residents, many of whom first owned a conventional house before buying their manufactured home.
What is surprising about those third-party research reports posted from this report is this. MHI on this date has none of these on the public-facing side of their website. Additionally, some well known ‘advocates’ for manufactured housing lack these independent research documents too.
What would motivate advocates and a trade group that claims under penalties of perjury (under oath) that they are working to improve the market for manufactured homes and yet fail to put forward the best evidence in favor of modern manufactured housing?
That the question even has to be asked is sadly revealing. By the way, from time to time we like to slip in a little humor in order to make a serious point.
Why We Fight – A Manifesto to:
White-Hat Manufactured Housing Pros, Manufactured Home Residents, All Affordable Housing Seekers, Authentic vs Ersatz or Confused Advocates, Public Officials, Legal Justice Proponents, and White vs. Black Hat Investors
Why do we fight to expand the proper understanding of manufactured homes? Why do we make a sharp distinction between the black-hats of our profession, while spotlighting the white hats that made our industry great?
Several reasons. Among them, as was noted above, research studies on manufactured homes produced by various branches of government debunk the common fears and misconceptions about manufactured homes. Put differently, manufactured homes are always worth fighting for because there is always a need for more affordable housing.
Yet, there is no other known website online that has more of that research collected for the public to examine than this one – MHLivingNews – and our sister site, MHProNews. Topics and links to research will be shown further below. But this is near the essence of why we fight to get the truth out about the good, the bad, and the ugly about manufactured housing.
The good news about modern manufactured homes are far too little known. The bad and the ugly are routinely connected to what might be called “the usual suspects” in manufactured housing. On MHProNews/MHLivingNews we use facts, evidence, reason and clearly labeled commentary to fight for what’s right and to battle what’s gone wrong in manufactured housing.
What we fight for:
- We fight for honest and ethical ‘white-hat’ manufactured home professionals. They are the ones that once made this a far larger and greater profession.
- We oppose corrupt, “predatory” manipulative practices that have had the pernicious effect of sadly harming a growing number of individuals and thus obscuring the good news about manufactured housing.
- We fight for the proper rights and respect for community residents and all manufactured homeowners.
- We fight to advance renters’ access to their right to have the most proven form of affordable housing in America. For millions, the only possible home they can afford to own is a manufactured home.
- We fight for conventional housing owners who have arguably been misled into thinking that manufactured homes near their homes will harm their values. That was debunked over a decade ago during the Obama-Biden years by HUD-commissioned third-party university-level research. Actually, the case can be made that manufactured homes ‘done right’ benefit all other forms of housing. Done ‘wrong,’ any form of housing is problematic.
- To shed light on the rationale for modern manufactured homes, we’ve created several illustrations over the years, including the one immediately below.
That said, in an information age, why are manufactured homes still so wildly misunderstood?
- University level studies, nonprofits, and certain news reports – along with federal, state and other research – makes it absolutely demonstrable that there is no present nor currently known alternative that is more proven in affordable housing than manufactured homes.
- Perhaps more surprising to newcomers to this site is that other research has demonstrated that manufactured homes are resilient in windstorms that include tornadoes, hurricanes, and other damaging weather events like a derecho – known as inland hurricanes.
- Manufactured homes are proven to appreciate in urban areas side-by-side with conventional housing and under the same broad conditions as conventional housing.
- University-level research on crimes in manufactured home communities has made clear that they are as safe as, and sometimes safer, than other neighborhoods.
- Research published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) makes it clear that most renters have an average income higher than the incomes for those living in manufactured homes. Restated, that means that millions of Americans could own a manufactured home instead of renting.
- The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) research demonstrated that manufactured homes are safer than mobile homes against fire, and are about as safe or safer than conventional housing against fire.
- Time and again, the common misconceptions about manufactured homes have been debunked by credible, factual, and well-documented third-party research.
- Perhaps the most recent doctoral dissertation in manufactured housing is one linked here that thanks in the acknowledgments this writer for our support of Dr. Lisa Tyler, Ph.D. and her work. A doctoral dissertation is a peer-reviewed process that has strict academic controls. Her topic is relevant to this discussion – Examining Community Attitudes Toward Manufactured Housing.
- Other peer reviewed, university level research since Tyler’s includes Samuel “Sam” Strommen from Knudson Law. He details the corrupt practices that have undermined manufactured housing. Strommen specifically thanked this writer by names, and references MHLivingNews and MHProNews numerous times.
- The CFPB is among the federal sources that have cited our work here on MHLivingNews, which in at least one instance was read into the Congressional record.
Why do we fight for white-hat brands, manufactured homeowners, and the proper rights of renters and conventional housing owners?
First, because we are true believers. Few, if any, of our would-be rivals have anything like the depth of professional experience in this profession as we do. One of those photos above is of our manufactured home residence at that time. Our son was conceived in and brought home to a nice manufactured home.
Second, we have known several of the various sides of the housing industry. This writer has owned conventional housing in nice neighborhoods. This writer has lived in one pre-HUD Code mobile home. My wife has lived in an elegant mansion. We are educated, not ignorant. This writer has owned and/or lived in several nice manufactured homes for many years. My wife, son, and I can honestly say from firsthand experience that that “you cook, clean, eat, live, and love the same in a manufactured home as you do in other types of housing.” ©
Third, perhaps no one on planet earth at this time has spent more time working, living in, providing highly-praised training and education, and then writing about manufactured homes than this writer and our MHLivingNews/MHProNews platforms.
Fourth, while we cover controversial topics, we have, at various times, been praised by even our critics and have been cited by name in various academic, media, and government sources.
Let me be clear. There are numerous good people in our profession. Those ‘white hats’ are the ones that merit a consumer’s trust and business because they have earned it. There are also authentic, as well as faux or ersatz, advocates in our industry.
Then, there are what could politely be called ‘black-hat brands.’ There are also frankly nonprofits that are demonstrably into paltering. Paltering is a deceptive method of communication that is a mix of facts and evidence which then uses spin or other deceptive methods that make the full truth and authentic solutions more difficult to detect.
There are also some who straddle a fence, whether they know it or not. Meaning, some may be well intended, but are not providing solutions that would cause millions of renters, and significant numbers of conventional housing owners too, to become manufactured home owners.
Some research and anecdotal evidence indicates that perhaps half of all manufactured home buyers first owned a conventional site built house. Note, while this video was produced while HUD Secretary Ben Carson was still at HUD, the same principle should be applied to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. We spotlight those who promote, as well as obstruct manufactured home living without partisan favor. We may be the only trade media platform, other than MHProNews, that spotlighted all of the powerful insights from a bipartisan group of lawmakers – Democrats and Republicans – who praised manufactured homes as an important part of the solution for affordable housing today.
Let me stress that point. Because that debunks many of the concerns that millions have about manufactured homes. It is as relevant as many of the other evidence-based statements in this report about research and Why We Fight for the Rights of Others in this battle for more affordable manufactured housing.
We Fight for Manufactured Homes because it is the right, truthful, and just thing to do. We fight hard. We name names and provide evidence. Some may misunderstand that naming names is not meant to be rude, it is rather a required reality. Without names, facts, and figures, how can people sort out the truth?
Third Party Research on HUD Code Manufactured Homes
That said, in an information age, why are manufactured homes still so wildly misunderstood?
Manufactured homes evolved from the mobile homes whose production was stopped before June 15, 1976. Manufactured homes are not the trailer houses or mobile homes of yesteryear.
Furthermore, manufactured housing involves numerous, factually authentic, and deeply troubling issues – again, why? Presuming that manufactured homes are the most proven form of affordable housing, which will be demonstrated herein by linking to volumes of that research, why are the barriers and problems connected to manufactured housing so persistent? In an information age, one might think that understanding these issues would be straightforward. Once understood, sincere people of good will with the proper resources and resolve could advance those solutions.
It may be shocking for some to realize that the work to remove the key barriers that currently impede manufactured housing growth was done years ago by Congress. By widely bipartisan margins, laws were passed in 2000 and 2008. One law that aimed to remove the artificial barriers established by affordable housing seekers who decide to own a manufactured home was signed into law by a Democratic president, William “Bill” Clinton. Another law that aimed to provide more affordable financing for manufactured homes was signed into law by a Republican president, George W. Bush.
When widely bipartisan laws are enacted during Democratic and Republican administrations, why does the federal government’s own records reflect that those laws are being thwarted, misused, or even abused some 21 and 13 years after they were passed?
These issues ought to be simple. One would think that in an information era that they would be easy to discern, learn, and, with the proper motivation and efforts, to resolve. But the reality has been different than what common sense says should be.
But the problems often caused by “predatory” corporate interests and other issues have proven to be thorny and persistent. When there are white-hats in this profession, why is it that the black-hats get the attention and seem all too often to have the upper hand? Why are these things so?
- A recently completed review of decades of affordable housing research sheds light on these and other interrelated topics.
Two federal comments letters provided herein below will explain in fairly short order several of the troubling drivers of the persistent problems in manufactured housing.
There are thousands of websites that have something to say or do about affordable housing in general, manufactured housing as a subset, or are manufactured home-specific. Some are funded by multi-billion dollar corporations. Others are nonprofit front groups for manufactured housing business interests, which broadly fall into two types that will be described herein. Still other websites are business promotional sites. Some are thinly-veiled self-promotion sites that may be thinly-veiled as ‘news’ or opinion/news, but fail to authentically cover hot topics in a balanced fashion, if they cover thorny issues at all. Then there are several resident advocacy groups, which fall into broadly authentic, ersatz groups that posture being advocates, but, when closely examined, are actually working for and funded by large and so-called (aptly so) “predatory” businesses. There are several others correctly interested in manufactured home living and manufactured housing for other sound as well as darker reasons. Among these and others that will be outlined herein are MHLivingNews and MHProNews. We must explain and examine why we at MHLivingNews/MHProNews fight in an evidence-based fashion, because what we do is unique in our industry.
Before getting deeper into the guts of this manifesto, let’s press on with a thumbnail of the various types of platforms and voices competing for attention from affordable housing advocates in general and manufactured home supporters, residents, and professionals more specifically.
There are also resident advocates, legal, and political voices that may authentically care about manufactured home residents and who may grasp several of the issues, but who frankly are not yet clear on what must be done to make the most proven from affordable housing in American history achieve and surpass its past glory days.
Political and legal advocates can fall into similar groups as those so noted. Meaning
- there are sincere but ineffective individuals and leaders,
- sincere leaders and advocates who truly grasp the underlying issues and are willing to fight for them,
- or those who are mere posers posturing for votes while going through motions that will not solve the actual problems or industry and its community residents, homeowners, and the industry’s white hat brands.
Then, there are those who are arguably black-hats that are often consolidators.
Let’s be clear. Some companies might be in the consolidation category and could or might be capable of providing the same level of service as in the pre-Warren Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway days of the manufactured home industry. More on that further below, in the form of official comments filed with the federal government.
Why do we fight for a proper and clear understanding and acceptance of Manufactured Manufactured Homes and Manufactured Home Living? Let me explain our motivation and vision as simply as possible. Among the thousands of sites out there, MHProNews quickly became the runaway most read “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © site in our industry. It is approaching its twelfth full year online. Then, when MHProNews was about 3 years old, Mobile and Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) was launched to fill the void on the resident and about promoting a proper understanding of manufactured home living. MHProNews and MHLivingNews see several platforms and brands worthy of following, doing business with, or engaging with. But as one of those organizations said, “Tony, you’ve proven yourselves.”
As another said.
But there are several dark forces, often slick and well-funded that are by accident and or design working to obscure the realities of manufactured home living and are working to consolidate this industry into relatively few brands. Those brands are dominated and/or driven or allied with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corporation, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) and other arguably black hat brands that are routinely members of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) below. in large part from that federal comments letter.
The above sets the landscape of the players in our industry.
There are an estimated 75,000 souls working in manufactured homes today, according to MHI. It may be more, but let’s use that figure for now. Thousands of them are working in the industry to earn a living. Done properly, there is nothing wrong with punching a clock in any one of numerous aspects of manufactured housing.
Then there are fewer, but still many that have made manufactured homes there career. Some of those have and do work for black-hats, others are working for white-hats. Read and watch our reports on how to tell the difference. We are the first platform that Pissed Consumer asked to do not one, but two video interviews with to inform their readers/viewers as well as ours about the “do this and don’t do that” tips in shopping for a manufactured home. That’s a serious compliment.
There are no perfect products, no perfect people that have been born in the last 1900 years, and no perfect business or organizations. That said, there are people who want to do right and those who are willing to bend or break the rules to get what they want. We stand and fight with those who are fighting for more affordable homes in general, and to do what’s right in manufactured homes in particular.
That’s one of numerous reasons why we provide the research and reporting that others mention and that others have failed to display. We are in this fight to win it. We want to expose the corruption in order to end it. We fight for what is right, just, and good. Some 20,000 reports and articles speak for themselves. As you walk through those reports between our two website, you will see the evolution of our own understanding of what went wrong in our industry, and our efforts to stop the corruption.
That’s why we fight. Our actions and words match. Look carefully to see how many others can say the same thing without having their fingers crossed behind their back.
We lay out the facts and insights that others are too lazy, agenda-driven, or 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
Recent and Related Reports:
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.