Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 103

Why Mobile Home Park Owners Are Better At Governing Than The Government Itself

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Perhaps our elected bureaucrats could learn a thing or two from mobile home park owners. We’ve been delivering on many promises on a consistent basis, while the government struggles to tread water. In this second of our four-part series titled “Politically Correct Parks” we’re going to discuss the many important programs that park owners initiate and maintain that provide important benefits to our residents.

Episode Transcript

Would you rather stake your future on the Federal Government, or on a mobile home park owner? For roughly 8% of Americans, betting on the mobile home park owner is doing a better job. This is Frank Rolfe with the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast Series. We're on our four-part series called Politically Correct parks, and we're going to talk a lot about why mobile home park owners are better at governing than the Federal Government.

Let's first start off with the whole idea of a balanced budget. The United States has not had a balanced budget, and I'm not really sure when the last time we ever had a balanced budget. Right now we have almost $20 trillion in debt. That makes us the largest debtor in the world, and our deficits these days are unbelievably high, up to a trillion dollars a year. So basically, I think it's fair to say the Federal Government, as far as balancing budgets, is not very good.

Park owners, however, have to balance their budget. They've got to bring in more revenue than they pay out in cost. They have to do that to pay for the park, to have the park even exist. So there really is no way that a park owner can ever do a worser job than Federal Government, because we're not allowed to have any deficiencies at all.

We've got to, as part of our loan commitments and just operationally to exist, we've got to live within our means. If we're going to have X dollars in expense, we've got to bring in ... Add X or more than X, to maybe have a go of it. So, when it comes to balanced budgets, definitely the mobile home park owner is better.

Next is, as far as providing affordable housing. You might say, "Well wait, now the Federal Government, they've got that Section Eight program, that's doing a better job than you mobile home park owners." But that's not really entirely true.

You see, Section Eight doesn't actually do anything at all. All that is, is we are just moving the cost of the housing to the Federal Government, and away from the resident. But it's not really sustainable. Who knows how much longer Section Eight can go on, it's clearly ... It runs in the red every day. And in fact, there's millions of people who need to be in Section Eight that can't serve because they simply don't have any more money in the budget to take that loss.

Mobile home park owners, however, we provide housing that is truly affordable without subsidy. That's the big issue, is the subsidy. If you watch the C-span trials on Congress, discussing this whole idea of affordable housing a couple years ago, you saw that many were shocked to find out that Section Eight is not sustainable, that those subsidies are vast and we can't keep paying them forever.

So basically, once again, the Federal Government, he can't do affordable housing at all. It just doesn't know how to create it or maintain it. However, mobile home park owners, they do that every day of the week. We're the only folks out there actually providing non-subsidized affordable housing. Also, it's worthy of note that mobile home park owners do a far better job than the Federal Government, as far as helping people who have problems with their homes. There really isn't a federal program out there to aid those in need on fixing up their homes, but park owners do it all the time. I know that we do it constantly.

Someone needs their home painted, they can't afford to do it, we do it. They had need a handicap-accessible ramp to the home, we'll provide that. We do all kinds of things. Federal government, none, zero. And even if they did, can you imagine how long the lines would be in order to get those things fixed? It'd just take forever.

Another item we do better than the Federal Government is the entire sense of fairness. You know, the government plays favorites. Maybe you have a certain congressman who's maybe in better stead with the Federal Government, who gets a little extra money in the old budget. But mobile home park owners, all the time, we foster fairness. We play no favorites. We have very simple systems of management.

Basically, one is called No Pay, No Stay. If you don't pay your rent, you can't live in the mobile home park. We don't do it in a judgmental way or a negative way. We want you to stay. Obviously, we're a business, we want you to live there and be happy and to pay. But you can't have situations where people who are paying their rent are faced with others who are not paying their rent.

It's simply not fair to anybody. There's no sense of fairness. However, with mobile home park business, we do offer that sense of fairness. Everyone is treated the same. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from. Everyone plays with the exact same set of rules. Another thing we do is we enforce our rules better than the Federal Government. In fact, we enforce our rules better than any city government.

If you drive around cities, as I do frequently, you'll see homes in really, really poor condition and yards that are a foot and a half high, and there's nothing being done about it. Absolutely zero. Now, the cities have the right to come to you. They can issue you a ticket and yes, they can go in and make repairs and bill it back to you. But the process takes so long that if you have a yard that was unruly in the summer, I'm not sure you could get it done before winter comes in and all the grass dies from the cold weather anyway.

So clearly, when it comes to rules enforcement, you really can't look to the government to help you. But in a mobile home park you can. We're able to actually enforce the rules and more importantly, we're able to have more restrictive rules, that are better for all of the residents. Then you have in the greater government outside. Such items as dangerous breeds of dogs, things that people don't want to live around.

Nobody wants to have a giant boxer or great dane roaming freely through the neighborhood. In single-family, that's tolerated all the time, but it's not tolerated in mobile home parks. So a lot of those rules that people really appreciate and really want, the only spot they can get those is in a mobile home park. You can't get it in the greater government out there.

The next thing we do is we're better at creating a sense of community and a sense of pride than the Federal Government. The Federal Government doesn't really do anything when it comes to trying to foster people as being happy neighbors and active in their community. They just don't. They have no initiative like that whatsoever.

But mobile home park owners have that all the time. All the time we're trying to think through, how can we get the residents more bonded? How can we get them to be happier, better socialized, offer better amenities? And the reason we do that is we're a business. We're trying to get them to have lots of friends in the community. If they have lots of friends, they'll never want to leave. It's kind of a new amenity that most parkers are just now realizing.

It was always there, but many never put any effort into it. In fact, the first time I ever saw an article, and the whole idea of trying to foster a sense of pride and a sense of community in a mobile home park, came from that Time magazine article about a year or two ago called The Home of the Future. And in the article, the writer raved about the fact that mobile home parks were kind of like gated communities for the less affluent. Those were his words, not mine.

But nevertheless, he really liked that sense of community. A lot of people read the article and thought, "Wait a minute. That's something we never really have explored much." And today what you'll find is most mobile home park owners are really putting in a lot of effort to try and create that sense of community.

What kind of things are they doing? Well, let's think about it. A lot of park owners today, if there's any green space at all in the property, they're going to put in picnic tables, outdoor grills, all kinds of things like that. Half-court basketball courts, pavilions, all kinds of things to unite the residents together. That way they can meet and interact, enjoy time together, enjoy time with family. And it helps build that whole sense of community. And then we try and actually accentuate that, we try to do more to even build their sense of pride, of ownership.

How do we do that? Spring cleanup events, we provide the dumpster and the tools, and we try and even bring in volunteers to help clean the property for one end to another. Even some simple things, as having a Yard of the Month Club. Even such minor items as having a monthly newsletter. These are all things the Federal Government never does, but the park owners do every day. Trying to unite people together for the common good.

And let's talk for one more minute about the entire concept of a support network. Now, Dave Reynolds, my partner, lived for a while down in Hondo, Texas. It's an area kind of down around Austin, south of Austin. He bought a mobile home park down there. It was hit by a tornado, and he was down there living in the park, tried to help make repairs.

And he noticed something very unusual. He found that that mobile home park had many of the same social programs that we all take granted for today, that the Federal Government might provide. It provided them, but on a much larger and more intense scale. If you live in that mobile home park and you needed to get to work and your car was broken, then they already had basically, ride programs, ride sharing already there, well ahead of Uber or Lyft.

If you didn't have enough money to buy food for some reason, you lost your job, you had a medical emergency, people at the park, they'd feed you. There was Meals on Wheels years before anyone ever came up with that idea. Basically, It was a support network for everything that could happen. The general attitude was, if you lived in the mobile home park and you had a problem, don't worry, we've got your back.

Does the Federal Government provide those things? No. They have a few programs, you'll have to apply. You'll have to wait in a queue for a long, long time. And then maybe months later or years later, you finally can tap into that network. For however long it lasts, and for whatever all they do for you. But mobile home parks and mobile home park owners, we foster that kind of community all the time.

We're the folks out there who are really getting the job done, with people who really need the help. It doesn't come from the Federal Government. They don't give us any subsidy. They do nothing at all. Finally, let me point out that mobile home park owners are one of the few folks out there who are actually providing the ability to enjoy the American dream of home ownership. You can't get it on the outside world.

Federal government has done nothing to help promote owning lesser expensive homes. Average new mobile home in the US today, about $30,000. You would think it would be easy for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or any government agency to help people buy those mobile homes, but sadly they don't contribute. Stick billed homes, sure, all day long. They've got all kinds of wonderful mortgage programs available. Mobile home world, no, not at all.

So the only reason that anyone can buy a mobile home in most parts of America, is the mobile home park owner actively gets in there and acts as the middleman. We go out and we bring in the new home, or we buy the new home and we bring it in. And then other groups who create mortgages, 21st Mortgage and others, they'll create mortgages for customers. But only if the mobile home park owner's in the middle of the loop of the whole transaction.

We have to basically be the one that guarantees that if the customer can't make the payment, that we have to make the payment. Once the customer leaves, we have to then rehab the home, market it, make it ready for the next resident. So, we're putting a huge amount of skin in the game, a huge amount of effort, simply to help deliver the American dream of home ownership. Something the Federal Government just doesn't do.

So the bottom line is, when you add it all together, there's no question. Mobile home park owners are far, far better at governing than the Federal Government. It's just simply a fact. People may not accept it, they may not want to hear it. A lot of people want to hear that the government, they've got it all going on. They've definitely got the plan to solve everything. But the truth is they don't, and they don't get it done. But mobile home park owners do, and they do it every day.

This is Frank Roth, the mobile home park mastery podcast series. Hope you enjoyed the second in our Politically Correct Park series and we'll be back again soon.