Another Nightmare Situation for Manufactured Home Owners – Part 1

Ishbel Dickens, Executive Director of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association is extensively quoted in an article by Natalie St. John of The Chinook Observer highlighting egregious business practices and bad living conditions in manufactured housing communities in Spokane, SW Washington and parts of Oregon, where the community owners have racked up huge debt and allowed at least one of the properties to fall into foreclosure.

Here is a link to the full story (part 1 of 3).

Report shows benefits to low-income residents of living in affluent cities

March 17, 2014
By Brooke Donald
Sandra Tello and daughter Cynthia by their home at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. (Photo: Brooke Donald)

Sandra Tello and daughter Cynthia by their home at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. (Photo: Brooke Donald)
 
Stanford survey of residents at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto finds above average school attendance rates, easier access to medical care.

Low-income children living in Palo Alto’s Buena Vista Mobile Home Park have lower dropout rates than their peers in less affluent cities and benefit substantially from local top-notch medical facilities, according to a study by Stanford researchers.

The study, released Monday, focuses on the educational and health care experiences of the dozens of children living in the park — one of the few spots with affordable housing in Palo Alto and the city’s only mobile home park — which is threatened with closure.

The report documents basic statistics about the kids, including where they go to school and what special programs they may be in, which the researchers said were so far lacking in the public discussion around the closure.

And while some policy makers question whether low-income minority children tap into available resources of affluent communities, the report’s findings show the substantial benefits for Buena Vista residents of living in a more advantaged area.

“It certainly makes a difference in how you do and how you feel when you are in a community with high quality amenities,” said Amado Padilla, a professor at the Graduate School of Education and co-author of the study. “You’re less stressed and often you’re more engaged. ”

Buena Vista Mobile Home Park is located behind a strip mall and gas station about 2 miles from the Stanford campus. About 400 people live there, most in privately owned trailers. They pay about $850 in rent and utilities, in addition to any outstanding debt on the home. Average rent for an apartment in Palo Alto is around $3,000 a month, according to RealFacts.

The park drew increased attention last year after the owner moved to sell the property to a developer who plans to build luxury apartments. The debate around the proposed closure, which must be approved by city administrators, has highlighted income inequality in Silicon Valley. The park itself also has become a symbol of how the tech boom hasn’t reached everyone.

The researchers, concerned about the outcomes of low-income Hispanic residents in California, where Hispanic children face challenges of school readiness and performance, saw a need to fill gaps in information about the residents of the park.

“It was just glaringly obvious when this debate about the park’s closure began that there were no data,” said study co-author Donald Barr, a professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and a professor of education, by courtesy, at the GSE. “We sought to remedy that, to find out who was there and what kind of education and health care they were receiving.”

Under city rules, the owner must compensate relocated residents.

Education and health status

The study identified 67 families with 129 children, 90 percent of whom are Hispanic. Stanford students fluent in Spanish and trained in survey research conducted interviews with the adults in each of the families asking questions about how often they brought their children to the doctor or did they ever visit their children’s teachers.

All of the school-aged children in the park were enrolled in school, according to the report. None of the high school–aged children had left school, compared with a dropout rate of 29.3 percent among Hispanic high school students living in Silicon Valley and 26.7 percent among Hispanic students statewide.

“This was a big surprise,” Padilla said. “Now, it doesn’t mean they’re doing really well in school, there are still a lot of challenges, but they are going to school and finishing school, which puts them ahead of their peers elsewhere.”

According to researchers, the parents in the park are deeply involved in their children’s education. Ninety percent had attended teacher conferences and visited classrooms. The parents also said they feel good about their children’s education, and they feel the schools are safe.

“I did not meet a single parent who didn’t know what was going on with their kids,” Padilla said. “If you went to some other school districts, you likely wouldn’t find the same thing.”

The researchers said living near the schools, rated some of the best in the state, helps parents gain familiarity with the classes and teachers. They also said mingling with other parents and kids in the larger neighborhood after school and on weekends keeps parents more engaged and accountable.

“That crossing of social class and ethnic boundaries, we know from other research, is very important,” Barr said.

Forty-three percent of children in grades K-12 were enrolled in at least one type of special school program, the most common was English language learning. Other programs kids took part in included for reading difficulties, speech therapy, math help and support for educational needs related to autism and ADHD.

On health care, the report found the children at Buena Vista benefited from the high volume of providers within close proximity to the park.

Asked whether the parents have a usual source of medical care for their children, 97 percent said yes. Asked whether their children had a check up in the past 12 months, 74 percent said yes.

“In other communities it’s just not like this,” Barr said. “You may have insurance but finding good care can be difficult, and you likely won’t find the providers who have the special resources these kids need.”

Still, 12 percent of children in the park were not covered by insurance, though that is comparable to the 9 percent of Hispanic children statewide who lack health insurance.

The report identified one major gap in health care in Palo Alto for low-income residents: dental services.

According to the study, one-third of the children at the park have gone longer than 24 months without seeing a dentist, and 20 percent had needed dental care in the previous 12 months but been unable to obtain it because of an inability to pay. The researchers said there is a scarcity of dentists in Palo Alto who accept public insurance.

The researchers plan a second survey of residents in the park’s surrounding neighborhoods to learn more about their knowledge of the park and its residents and their feelings about low-income housing.

Barr and Padilla were expected to present their findings to the Palo Alto City Council. The study was self-funded.

Don’t Be Fooled by This Bill

 Don’t Be Fooled, This Bill Would Actually Harm Manufactured Home Buyers

Posted by Doug Ryan on March 10, 2014

The “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act” (H.R. 1779 and S. 1828) has been on CFED’s radar since it was first introduced in the 112th Congress (2011-2012). The current legislation is led by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) in the House of Representatives and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in the Senate. Although “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing” sounds great, the bill would actually harm manufactured home buyers.

Before this year, manufactured home lenders were not subject to the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). Most manufactured homes are financed with chattel loans rather than traditional mortgages, and the chattel market operated largely outside of federal regulators’ supervision. In this unchecked lending environment, default rates are high and borrowers pay credit card-like interest rates on their home loans. The Dodd-Frank Act brought the manufactured home lending industry into the light by applying many of the same laws and regulations that govern mortgage lending, and giving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) supervisory and regulatory authority within the market.

But years before the new rules took effect, lenders began trying to avoid regulation by calling for new legislation to “fix” how Dodd-Frank treats manufactured homes. In reality, Dodd-Frank already recognizes that the manufactured home finance market has some unique characteristics and provides some exemptions for retailers and chattel lenders. The Preserving Access to Manufactured Homes Act would create even larger exemptions that would weaken consumer protections and enable predatory, high-cost loans. Its main provisions are:

Exempting more employees of manufactured home retailers from being defined as mortgage originators.

Raising the interest rate caps for HOEPA protections. Under the proposed legislation, a personal property loan of less than $75,000 with an interest rate as high as 14 percent would not be designated a higher-cost loan.

It would raise the HOEPA trigger for points and fees on loans under $75,000.

The act is not necessary to ensure that manufactured home buyers continue to have access to credit, as the CFPB has the power to adjust its rules in the case that credit becomes restricted. In the run up to the effective date of the rules, industry asked the CFPB to delay or to modify them. The CFPB did not find the industry data convincing, but agreed to review new data as needed. CFED and other members of the Innovations in Manufactured Housing (I’M HOME) Network have recently taken that message to congress, encouraging legislators to let the CFPB’s rules have a chance to work.

 

Members of the I’M HOME Network work to increase the role that manufactured housing plays in affordable homeownership. We have a deep interest in advancing policies that provide access to affordable financing for these homes—but not at the expense of consumer protections that help ensure that owners of manufactured homes are able to build and preserve wealth through homeownership. One way that policymakers could advance those goals would be to finalize the Duty to Serve (DTS) rule. DTS is a requirement of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. DTS would create secondary markets for manufactured home loans, including chattel, and attract new lenders to the market. The Federal Housing Finance Agency developed proposed rules in 2010 but has never finalized the regulations. Doing so would be a win-win for the manufactured home industry and manufactured home buyers alike.

February e-Blast

February 2014 Eblast 

Welcome – NMHOA is very pleased to welcome nine home owners’ associations who have joined NMHOA this month.  We welcome seven HOAs from Oregon: Bella Vista Estates Cooperative, Horizon Homeowners’ Cooperative, Green Pastures Senior Cooperative, Saunders Creek Homeowners’ Cooperative, Via-Lea Community Cooperative, and West-Side Pines Cooperative; as well as Rockvale MHC Tenant Union from Wisconsin, and Park Plaza Cooperative from Minnesota.

NMHOA also welcomes 18 new or renewing individual members from California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, and Nevada who have subscribed to NMHOA since the beginning of the year.

Your continued support allows NMHOA to continue its important work providing resources and services to manufactured home owners throughout the United States.

Thank You for Supporting NMHOA – NMHOA is only as strong as its membership. Thank you for all you do to keep NMHOA growing from strength to strength.  If you want your state or HOA to be highlighted in a future Eblast be sure to contact Ishbel Dickens (ishbel@nmhoa.org) and let her know of the great work that is happening in your state.  She cannot share your successes if she does not know about them!  Your success stories inspire others so please share.

Policy initiatives – During this month’s Legislative Committee call we learned of several bills that, if passed, would make a significant difference in the lives of manufactured home owners.  In Oregon, an opportunity to purchase bill has passed the House and is now on the Senate floor for further consideration. When enacted this would allow home owners in Oregon an opportunity to make an offer when their community is up for sale. A bill circulating in New Jersey’s Assembly would limit the amount rent could be raised for seniors on fixed/limited incomes. This bill would protect seniors in all rental situations, not just those in manufactured housing communities.  If you would like to know more about these bills or would like to participate in NMHOA’s Legislative Committee, please contact Leg. Comm. Chair Tim Sheahan (tpsheahan@cox.net) for more information.

Last words for February – Congratulations to Frank Pojman on being elected President of AMHRO the statewide home owners’ association in Ohio.

Look elsewhere on this site for contact information for all NMHOA state association members.

Congratulations are also in order for two NMHOA Board members – at its February meeting the NMHOA Board voted to have Jesse Martinez fill the President position for the remainder of that term, and voted for Tim Sheahan to become First Vice President.

Seniors To Meet with Representative Ron DeSantis (FL) to Discuss Retirement Security Issues

Many to Share Concerns About Damaging Policy Positions DeSantis Has Taken Regarding Social Security

 Port Orange –  On Saturday January 18th, seniors who reside in manufactured home communities will be meeting with Representative Ron DeSantis to discuss retirement security and housing issues.      Manufactured homeowners will also address growing concerns that have been raised by a number of Congressman DeSantis’ constituents, especially seniors, around his recent support of a Congressional sign-on letter circulated by Representative Reid Ribble (WI) that calls for raising of the retirement age, cuts to the cost of living adjustment formula and restores the cap on wages subject to FICA to Reagan era levels.  

 WHAT: Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Ron DeSantis
WHERE: Atlantic High School Auditorium, 1250 Reed Canal Drive. 

WHEN: Saturday, January 18th at 10am

“Now is the time that we should be discussing improvements, not cutbacks to our nations’ vital retirement security programs,” stated Dale Muzzy, president of the Carriage Cove HOA.   “There are many ways we can improve the program to ensure that the retirement security of all seniors and future retirees is protected.  That includes scrapping the cap on FICA taxes so that the wealthiest in our country pay their fair share and developing a cost of living formula, such as the CPI-E, that reflects the true cost of living senior’s face.”

Many that will be present at the meeting reside in manufactured home communities that are owned and operated by Equity Life Style Properties, Inc. ELS is the nation’s largest corporate owner of manufactured home communities.  Sam Zell is the board chair of ELS, which owns 380 manufactured home communities (defined as land-lease communities) in 32 states.  ELS markets to retirees and many homeowners in its developments are seniors living on fixed incomes.  Zell is also undercutting the economic security of seniors and people with disabilities by funding politicians and political action committees that are bent on dismantling the cornerstones of our nation’s retirement security programs: specifically, Social Security and Medicare.

“It is incomprehensible that someone who makes millions off of monthly rents paid to his company by seniors who are living on Social Security to turn around and call for cutbacks to this vital program,” added Dale Muzzy. “We are calling upon Representative DeSantis to also join us to call up Sam Zell to stop making damaging statements around Social Security and sit down and negotiate with homeowners around fair and reasonable rent increases and clear capital improvement systems.” 

Manufactured homeowners across the country are banding together and calling upon ELS to re-evaluate its business model and management practices.   Homeowners believe that a sensible alternative model for ELS is to put in place long-term lease agreements with fair and balanced rent increases and capital improvement processes.  Additionally, ELS would be able to engender a higher level of customer loyalty by pushing for policies that protect and strengthen our nation’s Social Security and Medicare systems.   

For more information go to http://mhaction.org or contact Dale Muzzy 386-898-2801 at to set up interviews with manufactured homeowners who are leading the campaign.

A Roast and Toast of Fred Neil – Delaware

Baltimore native has worked with sports icons

By Ron MacArthur | Dec 31, 2013

 

Photo by: Ron MacArthur Fred Neil quips about what it’s like to be an 80-year-old man.

Fred Neil celebrated his 80th birthday with a benefit for the Delaware Manufactured Homeowners Association, an organization close to his heart.

The Nov. 25 event also turned out to a roast and toast of Neil, who dished out some jabs of his own when he took over the microphone at the Indian River Fire Department.

Neil, who lives near Dover and serves as volunteer public relations officer for DMHOA, moved to Delaware from Baltimore where he had a distinguished career in radio and television sports broadcasting and producing. He has rubbed shoulders with many of Baltimore’s sports icons, including the Colts’ Johnny Unitas and the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson, both in their respective Hall of Fames.

He was news and and sports director of radio station WCBM in Baltimore where he produced the play-by-play of Colts’ games. He also produced, wrote and co-hosted a radio show with Unitas, a live locker room show with Jimmy Orr and a show featuring Ordell Braase and Tom Matte. All are well-known Colts players in the 1950s and 1960s.

He later produced a show pairing sportscaster, NBA coach and referee Charley Eckman and Colts’ Hall of Famer Art Donovan. Neil later wrote a book with Eckman called “It’s a Very Simple Game. Life and Times of Charley Eckman.”

He also teamed up with Robinson on WCBM radio for Orioles’ play-by-play.

His association with sports is only part of Neil’s story. He served as press officer for Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer, was president of the Baltimore news and sports reporters organization, president of the Maryland Press Club and worked for the Maryland Department of Education in the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Even though the Colts left Baltimore in March 1984, Neil and his wife, Dawn, still have their hearts in Baltimore as avid Ravens fan.

Most people were not aware that Neil has appeared in dozens of amateur theater productions throughout his life.

Emcee Norm Short, a radio personality on WXDE, Cool 101.3 and Eagle 97.7, called Neil a “Chuck Thompson wanna-be.” Thompson was the long-time TV voice of the Baltimore Orioles and Colts.

“Fred took up jogging because he wanted to hear some heavy breathing,” Short quipped. “He’s so old, he got his start in silent radio.”

Dixie Boucher, one of Neil’s roasters, said she tried to invite some Neil’s sports friends to the event but didn’t have any luck. “I wanted to contact these people and see how important Fred was,” she said.

She said many had passed away and those who were still alive did not recognize his name. She added that when she tried to look up his name on-line, a song writer and chiropractor came up.

Neil reminded Boucher that the Colts’ mascot horse was named Dixie.

Sussex County Clerk of the Peace John Brady said Neil has helped him learn to deal with the media. “It’s an honor to be in your presence; I’ve learned from the best,” he said.

After listening to several speakers talk about the joys of turning 80 years old, Neil added fuel to the fire of his roast.

He said when he retired and moved to a manufactured home park near Dover, he soon learned he was looked on as trailer trash. That set off a diatribe of one-liners.

“But that’s not true,” he said. “I do not allow my 12-year-old granddaughter to smoke in front of her children at the dinner table.”

“And we have only brought back more than we took to the dump once.”

Neil received accolades from Kent County Levy Court, the Maryland Senate, President Barrack Obama, the Delaware House and Senate and a letter from U.S. Sen. Tom Carper who recognized Neil’s lifetime of achievement. Kent Levy Court Commissioner Allan Angel presented Neil with a key to Kent County.

DMHOA President Ed Speraw called Neil a perfect public relations man. He said Neil is part of a team of dedicated DMHOA volunteers who work to better the lives of those who live in manufactured homes on leased land.

Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Allan Angel holds up a poster of an animated character in the movie “Up.” He said he couldn’t resist the temptation to compare Neil with the cartoon character’s look. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)