By L.A. “Tony” Kovach
It’s no secret. Not everything in life is sunshine and roses. Indeed, in order to have roses, one needs hydration – like rain that falls from the cloudy sky – and nutrition with fertilizers that are either natural or man-made.
A fundamental premise of free enterprise is to spot a problem and conceive of ways that an inconvenient or negative situation may become an opportunity to serve others, and thereby earn money.
A fundamental principle of human decency is to see someone in distress, and to step in an act solo or in concert on their behalf.
As an affordable housing crisis rages in America, and manufactured homes (MH) are the wildly misunderstood proven solution hiding in plain sight. So why hasn’t some MH industry leader or organization intervened in this troubling controversy that unexpectedly embroiled resident-home-owner, Millie Francis?
Community operator Brian Gallagher is correct in telling MHProNews that conventional housing has its share of controversies involving home owners’ associations (HOAs). While true, its manufactured housing that is misunderstood, not conventional housing.
There are any number of organizations or individuals who should feel motivated to resolve the issue of 85-year-old Millie Francis in a manner that respects her rights and wishes. They could do so in a way that might allow the Bradenton Tropical Palms, Vanguard Management, or the Knox and Levine law firm to save face.
Before proceeding with some of those who could benefit by such an intervention, let’s summarize what the issues are to inform new readers about this controversy, as well as provide a refresher for the thousands of manufactured home industry professionals who have already read about this previously.
Reported Facts and Assertions:
- Millie Francis lives in a resident owned community (ROC), the Bradenton Tropical Palms, in Bradenton, FL.
- According to a statement from Mrs. Francis to MHProNews this morning, her issues with Bradenton Tropical Palms community manager Janet Nowakowski long predate her placement of a faith-inspired artistic display.
- After “years” of that community’s security service shining a spotlight into her home during nighttime hours like “2 [AM] o’clock in the morning,” along with other privacy incidents, Francis tells MHProNews that she decided to have her front window replaced to end the annoyances. Francis stated that she advised management. They gave her their okay.
- There may be incomplete and/or unsubmitted community required paperwork involved in this controversy.
- Manager Janet Nowakowski reportedly observed on several occasions the artwork as it was being done on the street facing of Francis’ pre-HUD Code mobile homes. It wasn’t until after the artwork commissioned by Francis was completed by professional artist IngridBrandt that Nowakowski, per Francis, demanded its removal. That insight from Francis to MHProNews today may undermine any argument that the Bradenton Tropical Palms might raise.
- Other homes in that same community have similar, often large displays on the exteriors facing the street. Those others cases could be viewed as either secular or religious, as can Francis’ art. Some are attached to a mobile or manufactured home, others are not.
- Francis is being threatened with eviction and legal action over this alleged infraction.
- A new hearing with a state agency is scheduled for tomorrow, but it may be postponed.
- Legal action could still ensue whatever the state agency decides.
Additional details are found at this link here:
The Drudge Report linked up this article below, which made the issue a global one.
The video below is from the same local news source, linked above.
In fairness to the Bradenton Tropical Palms, Vanguard Management, or Knox and Levine, are there possibly other unknown facts? Yes. That said, the Daily Business News on MHProNews – and this writer – have reached out more than once to get their perspectives.
The downloadable document linked here is a communication sent by email to attorneys Jessica Knox and Bryan Levine. It was also sent to another associate in their law office. It contains background and perspectives useful to understanding this issue. It clearly invited them to comment, clarify, contest or otherwise tell their client’s version of the events in writing.
Knox and Levine electronically confirmed receipt. But they exercised their right not to comment. So, if there is anything incomplete in the way of background or related details, that is on them. Moving on.
Who is Harmed by the Hullabaloo? Who Could Benefit?
When one reads the public comments on various mainstream media news sites posted about this Millie Francis and her Our Lady of Guadalupe art issue, the harm to the image of the manufactured home (MH) industry and its homeowners becomes evident.
From the typical demeaning nomenclature, to put downs about that location, or of our industry and millions of factory-built home owners, there are a range of comments that should inspire the desire to correct the record.
A reasonable question is this. Those public comments are reminders that should inspire — whom?
First, those on the front lines of this arguably mishandled matter by the Bradenton Tropical Palms management and their attorneys. Once a mistake(s) occurs, the motivated professional question becomes, ‘what to do about it?’ How can one take lemons, and make lemonade?
Paul Bradley and ROC USA had the vision to launch #NobleNotMobile. Why aren’t they stepping up to the plate on this ROC connected Millie Francis odyssey? Does it matter that it isn’t in their network? They could possibly get more good PR from helping to resolve this one issue, than anything else that they could do this year. The fact that it is outside of their network is a plus, from a PR perspective, not a minus.
What about NMHOA or MHAction? Or Doug Ryan at Prosperity Now? Here is a woman living in a resident owned community (ROC). Her experience-to-date flies in the face of their narrative of the supposed ‘economic security’ she as a shareholder in that ROC community is supposed to enjoy. How so? Because Millie Francis’ ROC is effectively threatening to evict her over a disputed rules infraction. Can you spell, black eye?
Where is MHAction and their merry band of protesters-on-demand? Why aren’t they standing up for Millie Francis’ rights? Where’s Doug Ryan’s outrage, or any others in organizations like theirs?
There are any number of possible persons or groups that could step up and turn this obvious negative into a potential positive.
There are professionals and firms that have given away a manufactured home at Christmas time. That’s a fine gesture, that gets some free media. Why not protect Millie Francis’ home and her rights to religious expression? Why not be a heroine or hero in bringing to a hopefully happy conclusion this messy matter?
Francis says she loves her pre-HUD Code mobile home. But she and her health are disturbed by the way her ROC community has handled this and other issues.
As arguably the most covered single controversy in all of manufactured housing in 2018, how this story draws to a close could influence public perceptions about this part of the affordable housing industry for years. As the Chinese axiom states, their characters for crisis means danger as well as opportunity in disguise.
The wrap this up logically, one or more of the following could occur.
- Unsatisfactory conclusion for Millie Francis. If so, then given the nature of the internet, this unforced contusion on MHVille could be a stain for years to come. That’s especially true for the Bradenton Tropical Palms, but the impact will go beyond that location. It could possibly harm the image of ROCs, land-lease community living, and manufactured homes in general.
- Millie Francis could die. Ditto the bullet above, and perhaps as bad or worse than if she was effectively evicted. See the download linked here for what that might spark. Because if she does die, then this tragic tale will likely live on in the next round of litigation that her kin could launch in the wake of a stress-induced death.
- Management of this community, ROCs, and the attorneys could be defined by this episode for years. Is being “tough” on rules – even if the community happens to be right, which is debatable – would firmness be the right image to project to the world in this case? Management and their attorneys need to study the meaning of the term, “Pyrrhic victory.”
- The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their National Community Council (NCC). MHI purportedly fails on a routine basis to live up to their own claim of ‘representing all aspects of factory-built housing.’ Seriously? Do MHI leaders want to be a mensch, or not? Do they want to be seen again as hypocritical or not?
- Other land-lease community owners. Has anyone thought to offer to move Mrs. Francis and her home to their land-lease community? Artwork and all? Or to simply offer to ‘foot the bill’ for the paperwork fix of this nettlesome issue, and get years of good PR as a result?
- The same bullet above about MHI could be posed to the industry’s largest firms. We’ve alleged that Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage have deftly used for years avoidable and artificial headwinds. Negative media are among those, as but one of Chairman Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway’s “sharks in the water” of their “Moat.” Kevin Clayton could set the resolution of this matter in motion with a text, an email or phone call. Ditto Tim Williams at 21st, Eric Hamilton at VMF, etc.
- Public officials. The list here is extensive, and obvious from the points noted above.
- Faith-based, First Amendment, or other special interest groups. Ditto the bullet above.
That sets the stage for what happens next.
MHProNews has reasons to believe that one or more mainstream media outlets will be doing another report soon. That could spark yet another round of problematic media for MHVille.
Or – if someone steps up to the plate – it could be a rainbow at the end of this ongoing storm.
An 85-year-old retired nurse and widow is suffering for what she believes in. On a purely human compassion level, why hasn’t someone from MHVille or beyond stepped up and helped her resolved this?
Enough said for now.
That’s just part of what is occurring in what was once the aspirational manufactured home industry of the 1990s. Our once robust industry today has since been shrunk down to MHVille. Will we learn how to grasp the opportunities-in-disguise that could revive our industry’s reputation?
With no further adieu, for more headlines of the news, analysis and commentary about the affordable side of the housing industry in the week that was, see the reports linked below.
What’s New on the Masthead
What’s New on MHLivingNews
As you ponder the linked reports above or further below, never forget that you are part of a larger housing industry that reportedly closed some $1.6 trillion dollars in sales in 2018. Manufactured homes closed under $8 trillion. The industry can do better.
If we are measured by those we serve, it is my hope that one or more people or organization’s will step up and lend Millie Francis and her adversaries – that should be her allies – a hand to bring this episode to a happy close.
That’s this week’s recap of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Headline news, week in review, news, commentary, and analysis.)
(See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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