Time for a Change? MHIndustry Budgets for a Contract Lobbyist!

Time for a Change? MHIndustry Budgets for a Contract Lobbyist!

Or, to put it another way: ‘Days of the hammer & velvet glove may be over.’

Disclaimer. In no way should you read what follows as a clarion or veiled call, to form a new, unified, national manufactured housing trade advocacy body. The intent is simply to describe an active, independent effort to unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. GFA

As a directly related aside, last week’s blog posting at this website, titled: ‘AFTERGLOW & ‘MH to Learn from RV Industry?’’ introduced Randy Rowe’s succinct ‘Five Part Market Share Recovery Plan for Manufactured Housing Industry & the Landlease community Real Estate Asset Class!’ Scroll back thru this website’s blog archive to reread it; or, request a free copy of the summary treatise, enclosed as a lagniappe with the October issue of the Allen Letter professional journal.*1 It relates to…

This week’s blog focus is the direct result of conversations heard, & plans shared last week, at Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) annual meeting in Denver, CO. But first some numbers; then a brief historical perspective; finally, the guts of the issue.

If you’re a longtime MHI member, and recall hundreds of manufactured housing aficionados in attendance at past annual meetings, you’ll be shocked to learn this year’s event saw just 91 names on the 26 – 28 September registration roster. Deduct 17 state MHAssociation execs, and four more to account for invited speakers and no – shows (Have no idea how many last minute sign-ups and ‘crashers’ were present, but I did see a couple of the latter), one is left with but 70 businessmen and women, from 21 states, in attendance at this year’s annual business meeting.

Unless you’ve been ostrich-like during the past four months, you’ve certainly heard or read of the independent initiative, outside MHI and MHARR (‘Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform’) political circles, to unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. The initiative was birthed during telephone conference calls among state MHAssociation execs, and made public during the Manufactured Housing Executive Council (‘MHEC’) meeting in June in Washington, DC. The matter was reported on, in this weekly blog posting, shortly thereafter. Who comprises the active, independent initiative today? An increasing number of HUD Code home manufacturers ‘from both camps’, some MHRetailers, several state MHAssociaiton execs, and more….
Their gripe? As it’s been explained to this industry and asset class observer, dissatisfaction with the (lack of) results per heavy – handed (Some say ‘hammering’), ultimately self – defeating dealings with federal regulators in one corner of the manufactured housing industry; and, dissatisfaction with the (lack of) results using velvet glove (Some say ‘consensus – building’) defeatist dealings with federal regulators, from another corner of our national advocacy presence. And those disparate tactics have oft led to industry disunity, a suicidal condition regularly exploited by the very federal regulators targeted, to influence and improve the regulatory climate suffered by HUD Code manufactured housing producers! Proof? The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000; not fully implemented to this day, more than a decade after its’ enthusiastic passage by Congress!

Will the active, independent initiative spread and grow? Too early to tell, but the bellwether indicator is and will continue to be, the amount(s) of money raised to support this regulatory focus; then identify and hire the right contract lobbyist to markedly unify, influence and improve how manufactured housing interacts with federal regulators (of the industry) in Washington, DC. Already, MHI has budgeted more than $120,000.00 to this end, during 2011. (But has it really? At MHI’s board meeting last week, their $120,000.00 foci priority was entirely legislative, not regulatory! See *2 for details). On the other (i.e. regulatory issues initiative) hand, HUD Code manufacturers have stepped up to the funds plate; several states have pledged financial support; and two well – regarded Washington, DC consulting groups have responded, in writing, to a Request for Proposal distributed after MHI’s (MHEC) meeting during June 2010. Bottom line? Apparently, two different war chests in the making….

Again, MHI’s $120,000.00 apparently earmarked for legislative issues; and the necessity, for a like or greater amount to be raised, via independent initiative proponents, to address manufactured housing’s perennial regulatory issues….

Want to learn more about the independent initiative; maybe even donate to the cause? Telephone the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764 and be put in touch with the appropriate ‘movers and shakers’ leading it. At the same time, if a direct dues – paying member of MHI and or MHARR, encourage elected and salaried leadership to unite their respective efforts, to markedly influence and improve their interaction with legislators and federal regulators (of the manufactured housing industry) in Washington, DC! In the meantime, continue to read this blog posting every week, to stay abreast of further developments as they occur….


See anything missing from this Time for a Change discussion? How ‘bout the landlease (nee manufactured home) community real estate asset class; you know, one of those dratted (in some folks’ mind) post production (nee aftermarket) segments of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry. It’s interesting to ponder why the most prosperous segment of the manufactured housing industry – at this time, is all but omitted from heady discussions when manufacturing/distribution segments of the industry (not realty asset class) are engaged. Suppose part of the reason is historical precedent. After all, how often is it that the perceived ‘tail of the dog’ is in a position to wag the dog? Furthermore; in year 2011, as MHI celebrates its’ 75th anniversary, the robust NCC division of MHI is only 15 years young – but growing.

But moving right along, and continuing with the dog metaphor; do we, as a realty asset class, even have ‘a dog in this hunt’? Of course we do, in a big picture way. Here’re two (regulatory) examples: implementation of the aforementioned MHI @ 2000 Act and home installation. In the first instance, once MHIA @ 2000 is fully implemented, segueing our affordable shelter product from ‘trailer stigma’ to full – fledged ‘housing status’, we’ll see our struggle for parity realized – opening marketing avenues along the way! And, we owe it to ourselves, as landlease community (‘LLCommunity’) owners/operators, to remain fully engaged in the regulatory processes, to ensure safe and secure, but not unduly expensive, installation regulations relative to manufactured homes sited in and outside our unique income – producing properties.

And yes, we certainly do also have a strong and abiding interest in legislative matters potentially affecting our realty asset class, like those listed in end note # 2 following.

End Notes.

1. Free copy: Allen Letter professional journal, and Mr. Rowe’s summary treatise available, by phoning MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.

2. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill; S.A.F.E. Act – related legislation; housing finance programs; ‘duty to serve’ tax reform; and, energy matters.

George Allen, Realtor®, CPM®Emeritus, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry &
The Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247
(317) 346-7156

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