We are a for-profit, mission driven company, operating 40+ mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities in 7 states. We have a two-part mission: to deliver high-value housing that our Residents are proud to call home, and to deliver compelling risk-adjusted returns to our Investors. Our core values include acting with integrity and treating all people as we would want to be treated.
People don’t always understand what we mean by this. As a result, people sometimes perceive a tension between our operating practices and our stated values, even though they are fully aligned. So, we are writing this in order to share exactly what we mean when we talk about our social impact mission. Our Residents and our Investors should both know exactly what we mean.
In terms of our business philosophy, and our life purpose: This is how we see ourselves creating a better world, with more safety, more fairness, and more opportunity for people across the social and economic spectrum. This is how we are manifesting the world that we (Daniel and Yoel, the company’s founders) want to see. This involves our ethical beliefs. And it requires trade-offs. Not everyone will agree with our values. There is no single formula for “integrity” or “fairness” or “social impact.”
- We provide safe and clean housing. In some communities we provide a high-end amenities package. In some communities we don’t. But we commit to provide safe and clean housing in all our communities.
- We provide communities that are objectively affordable. The cost to live in our communities is a fraction of the cost of buying a conventional site-built home, and significantly cheaper than renting an apartment. We sometimes get into debates about specific rent increases. But the “big picture” is that essentially all our properties provide rent prices that are affordable to low-income households earning less than 80% of area median income (AMI).
- We provide safe and clean housing regardless of race, color, creed, social background, or sexual orientation. We use objective criteria for resident applications, and if you meet the criteria, you’re approved. That is the essence of the federal Fair Housing Act. As a deliberate social choice, we do not ask about immigration status, nor do we require applicants to have a social security number. We are proud to provide safe and clean housing for our fellow Americans, regardless of how and when they got here.
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4. In order to provide safe and clean neighborhoods, we remove residents who threaten the health and safety of other residents. This should be obvious. This is our duty to our residents, and this is required by common sense. We are not embarrassed about removing people from our communities (in accordance with all applicable landlord-tenant laws) if they are engaged in crime, or pose a health and safety threat, or perpetuate blight. It is patronizing and offensive to say that our residents should just have to live with these issues because they are “low income” or “live in a mobile home park.”
5. We help our residents build wealth through homeownership. Between 2014 and 2019, manufactured home values rose faster than site-built home values in 27 states. Manufactured homes appreciate the most when they are located in well-managed communities, like the communities we run. Our residents routinely build significant wealth by buying manufactured homes in our communities and then giving the market time to do its job. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of the work we do.
6. We upgrade our neighborhoods and extend the supply of affordable housing by replacing obsolete manufactured homes with new homes. Some park owners are content to just collect lot rent from existing manufactured homes (even if those homes are at the end of their useful life). We want our parks to provide clean, safe, affordable housing for another 50+ years, so we work proactively with residents to replace outdated housing stock with new, attractive, energy-efficient manufactured homes.
7. We believe in charging market rent. “Market rent” is the rent that local people who do not live at our property are willing to pay in order to move into the property. Our existing residents, who signed leases years ago, often have below-market rents, and we believe in raising those rents to market over time. We believe this is good for society. If mobile home park owners do not earn a fair return on their investment, they will not be able to reinvest capital into their parks in order to keep them safe, clean, and functional for residents in the long term. And if rents get “trapped” below market, then mobile home parks (which are a naturally occurring form of affordable housing) will eventually be redeveloped into other more profitable land uses.
8. We work case by case with individual residents who cannot afford rent increases. Over time, when we raise rents to market, there are sometimes existing residents who are very low-income who cannot afford a rent increase, based on their individual circumstances. So, we work with those residents! We voluntarily offer rent subsidy programs for qualified residents. We also invest time and resources to connect those residents with public assistance programs for which they are eligible. At the end of the day, the fact that a certain resident with a challenging personal circumstance cannot afford market rent does not mean that we should not charge market rent. We charge market rent, and then we work with individual hardship residents on case by case basis.
9. We oppose rent control. Rent control creates a class of “haves” (the people who have access to cheap housing, locked in at below-market rates) and “have nots” (everyone else).
10. We are here to listen and learn, and our views may change over time. One of our five core values is having a growth mindset. We are always open to feedback, and willing to pivot if our convictions change.
This list of ten practices is a summary of how we manifest our personal values as manufactured housing operators. This is what we mean, specifically, when we say we act with integrity and we treat all Residents with dignity and respect.
I think codifying these values and sharing them publicly with current and prospective Residents shows how seriously we take this mission.
We are always balancing the interests of several distinct groups: our “average” Residents (the 99% of Residents who want clean, safe neighborhoods they are proud to live in), our small handful of “challenging” Residents (who need to comply with our community standards or seek an alternative), and our thousands upon thousands of “prospective” Residents (who have very few affordable options available in the market, and who would love to live in our communities if we had more vacancies available).
We are treating people exactly as we want to be treated.
Daniel Weisfield and Yoel Kelman