The mid-term elections are a week out. Some predict a wave that will sweep Republicans into control of the Senate, giving new momentum to challenges to Dodd-Frank. Others say some races are so close, the Democrats (or in KS, an “Independent”) could surprise Republicans and keep Harry Reid’s gavel firmly in his hands.
Each side makes it clear that every vote counts in the “ground game.” So will the day come that manufactured housing professionals realize that with proper advanced planning, MH could in become the swing votes election in most districts?
The MH industry could accomplish that goal, if…
…if we had the roughly 20 million home owners and residents living in MH “on our side” at the polls.
Political Victories = Money and Votes
6% of the U.S. population lives in our product. Many electoral races are decided by a far smaller margin. Polls suggest races in GA, KS and NH may have their respective Democratic, Independent and Republican candidates about 2% or less apart.
That means our residents, customers and MH professionals could be a deciding factor in tight races.
Some understandably angst that MH doesn’t have enough lobbying dollars to compete with deeper pocket interest groups. Okay, then why aren’t we collectively more focused on mobilizing MH voters? Either well done or a blended lobbying approach could yield a breakthrough in Washington DC, or at the state level.
Financial Gain from Having Residents on our side
I’ve heard the arguments made by some – for example, from the MH communities sector – that they don’t want to organize residents. It is “too risky.”
Really? If we don’t organize them, then groups like the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) has proven they will. Ishbel Dicken’s lead NMHOA – via their state affiliates – have time after time, and will continue. Is that what MH Pros want?
Or think about those attorneys who’d love to organize the residents of XYZ MHC for the next class action law suit to hit an MHC owner?
Nature abhors a vacuum – either we organize home owners and residents to fight for what is arguably in their own best interests – for example, on needed Dodd-Frank reforms – or others have and will fill that void. Ignoring the political clout of residents or ceding it to others is not a successful strategy.
Come to think of it…
On the Masthead we believe our MH Industry is the future of quality, appealing, affordable housing in America and beyond! But that doesn’t mean that some of those that you know in our industry won’t suffer catastrophic reversals:
in the market place,
from regulators and public officials
from the courts and legal system
A Better Way to Express This
Come to think of it, the better phrasing is we MHPros want to be on our home owners and residents side.
We can readily make the case that Dicken’s and those like her who:
> want the CFPB to remain as is,
> or who argue for rent control, etc.
are well meaning, but mistaken.
Listening to the concerns of MH home owners/residents and giving them our professional insights must be shared ways in ways that resonates for them.
Rent control and the Dodd-Frank status quo both arguably harming MH residents and home owners. Why don’t industry pros make a video that tells the tale? For now, consider case made in this video by Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute, and her reasons why rent control harms housing affordability and quality.
Combine the above insight, with this TV news report out of Manitoba and the demonstrated impact of rent control in that market on manufactured housing.
In an interview with Sheila Dey, the industry veteran made the point of how powerful an impact such resident groups can have on elected officials. Of course, she is correct.
But let’s think about that very point in reverse.
Doesn’t it make sense to make to help residents see why rent control harms them, harms housing affordability and thus should be resisted? Can’t we make the case on HR 1779/S 1828 to them as well?
Win-lose often becomes lose-lose when facts are viewed objectively. When Big Business took advantage of labor at various times/places, unions organized. As some labor unions later became equally abusive, the enterprise (or city…) may have failed, going into bankruptcy.
Without mutual victories – solidarity – there are often only mutual losses.
Take a Bite…
How many of the millions who buy an Apple iPhone complain excessively that they bought the previous ‘new model’ a mere 18-24 month’s ago?
Yet MH has a more compelling story than Apple, so long as we craft and tell it well.
Manufactured housing holds a key to quality affordable homes for millions of Americans. Given the proper win-win perspective, MH businesses, home owners and residents all benefit. That firm foundation could lead businesses, associations and home owners to join hands on issues of common interest.
Such unity could swing elections.
Very little effort is being made to explain – much less engage – manufactured home owners on why legislation like HR 1779/S 1828 is important to them. Nor is much is being done to explain to residents why rent control may sound good but harms them in the long run.
The popular definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things in the same way, hoping for a different result. Hope isn’t a strategy. Let forward thinkers and doers plan ahead for 2016, by crafting an engagement plan with residents and home owners now. ##
(Editor’s Note: A Cup of Coffee with…Ross Kinzler will touch on leardership and other hot issues in manufactured housing. Please watch for it with our rapidly approaching November 2014 issue.)
(Editor’s Note 2: Amy Bliss has written a thoughtful OpEd: