Click here to see MHAction’s Year in Review: Taking Action, Building Power and Securing Victories!
Pam’s Story: Living on Tenuous Grounds
Pam Durdey, The Winds North, Sarasota, Florida
I had a rewarding career in the accounting field. As I was nearing time for retirement, I visited friends who spent winters at The Winds North in Sarasota. I became impressed with the lifestyle and the wonderful sense of community the homeowners built together. In 1997, I bought a home. I loved it so much, I decided to stay and purchase a new home in 2009. I enjoy the feeling that I am living in a good, safe place. I enjoy playing cards, swimming in the community pool and leading the Windy Warblers, a singing group which entertains in care facilities.
At the time of my purchase of the new home, there were negotiations between the HOA and management involving rent issues. I was glad to hear an agreement was finally reached to return some overpayments that had been made regarding monthly rent. However, I was incensed and disillusioned with management’s sense of caring about their customers when I was told that since I was now a “new” tenant in my new home. I was perplexed why I did not qualify for any refund. I was shocked at how arbitrarily they operate as a business.
I feel like the constant and arbitrary rent increases have left my monthly budget on tenuous grounds. I have a pension, but it does not increase at nearly the pace ground rent does for my manufactured home. In fact, since I moved into The Winds North, my rent has increased at twice the rate as my pension.
I take one day and one year at a time. I am feeling overwhelmed by the increasing number of negatives of living in a ground rent community that is owned by an out of state corporation. I feel like I am dealing with a seemingly uncaring, huge corporate owner whose only mission is to bilk homeowners out of their hard earned savings by raising rents considerably each year while, at the same time, neglecting needed community maintenance and infrastructure issues. Corporate giants should not win out simply due to greed.
What I’ve learned over time is it’s homeowners like myself that make this a “community”. It is due time our communities come together and push for fair treatment for our families.
Below is a statement from MHAction on the Shootings at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones in last week’s horrific shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Although none of us knew the nine people that lost their lives, it is important for us to name and always remember them: Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Myra Thompson, Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Suzie Jackson and Cythia Hurd. May they rest in peace.
We remember the victims as we look back to the November 2014 Leadership Retreat in Orlando, Florida when 32 community leaders from manufactured home communities from 9 states came together and held conversations regarding the core values that will be central to the work of MHAction moving forward. We came to an agreement that MHAction’s values rested firmly in ‘compassion for our neighbors and love of our communities.’
We stand at the ready to use those core values as community leaders and take on systems of oppression that affects the lives of our families and our communities. We know first-hand that oppression takes many forms, and it is our duty as community leaders to engage in deep conversations and joint action that leads to a more just and equitable world. MHAction’s goal is to shine a light on large corporate manufactured housing community owners extracting outrageous rents from our families, on elected officials using myths and scare tactics to promote cuts to vital public programs like Social Security and on those responsible for propagating hate crimes and racially motivated killings.
Those that lost their lives last week were moms and dads, workers, uncles, brothers, aunts, sisters, children, grandparents, teachers and friends….we owe it to them and to our communities to never forget them and continue to fight on for a more just and equitable world.
MHAction Core Team
Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) is a special project of the Center for Community Change. MHActionis a growing national movement of manufactured home owners who engage in public policy issues that address their interests and concerns as homeowners on the local and state levels, as well as larger issues of retirement and economic security on the national level. MHAction is led by a core team of community leaders that live and reside in manufactured home communities. To follow along on Facebook, please ‘Like’ us at: https://www.facebook.com/MHaction
ELS Board of Directors: June 14th, 2015
We would like to offer sincere thanks for the opportunity to discuss our concerns with Members of the Board of Directors as both homeowners and shareholders. We were pleased to take some time to speak to several board members prior to and after the meeting. Also, it was reassuring that the seated board members turned to listen as each of us shared some thoughts during the allotted time.
We feel it is vitally important to share our concerns involving reputational risks to the company and potential impact on customer loyalty. We’ve heard from thousands of homeowners who have expressed confusion and displeasure in terms of the ongoing escalation of company ground rents, lack of clarity regarding community capital improvement programs and unclear processes when raising concerns.
We also remain puzzled by Sam Zell’s continued absence at ELS’ shareholders meeting year after year. This is the one annual meeting Mr. Zell should be attending each year to hear directly from shareholders. We would hope that Mr. Zell would prioritize attending this meeting in the future.
After the shareholders meeting, we were informed that two regional Vice Presidents of Operations were asked by the Board of Directors to provide an opportunity to vet company processes related to these items. One level of agreement that was made was developing a short and simple ‘communication map’ involving proper methods and chain of command for homeowners to raise issues and concerns. Posting this information at each community will go a long way in confirming that the door is always open for communication and that an avenue for appealing the decisions made will be available without the fear of reprisal.
We also took away from the meetings that the two of the four Vice Presidents would continue to make themselves available throughout the coming year and follow up on major issues in several markets.
On Behalf of Community Leadership Team of MHAction
Shareholder / Resident ELS
Here are some supporting materials for local community leaders to run fun and engaging training workshops. Simply clink on the links below. If you do run a workshop, remember to go to MHAction’s Facebook Page and post pictures for all to see!
Letter to the Editor Workshop Materials
Jeopardy Game Materials (Note: This game has one category that contains North Dakota specific Clues and Answer. That particular category would need to be re-worked in order to be germane to your location.)