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i'mPOWERED! September 2015

NMHOA's President Tim Sheahan Welcomes You to i'mPOWERED! 

Welcome to NMHOA’s educational series, i’mPOWERED!.  As they say, “knowledge is power,” which inspired NMHOA to create a distinctive name for this service that combines the three words I-am-empowered. 

This month, our feature article focuses on networking and relationship building in order to expand your sphere of influence.  Since much of our power is at the ballot box, educating others to understand our issues when casting their votes will provide valuable support for candidates and measures we support.  Networking with other organizations with similar missions is a way to tap their connections to influence completely new sets of supporters and piggy-back on their clout with elected officials and governmental agencies. As advocates, we know there is strength in numbers and through networking, those numbers can grow dramatically!

Networking to Expand Your Sphere of Influence
By: Tim Sheahan

As they say, all politics is local and that is the best place to start in making friends and influencing people when seeking support. Historically, we have had enough clout at the ballot box to sway elections and get supportive candidates elected in many areas. In California, where I live, that has led to adoption of valuable MH owner protections; including zoning protection, rent stabilization ordinances and fair compensation for MH owners when MH communities close. However, through the years, they haven’t built new manufactured home communities, while the general population might have increased dramatically. That trend is likely to continue, which will dilute our clout at the ballot box even more and make it that much more important to expand our sphere of influence by educating and lobbying others for support. Unfortunately, many states have a statewide “preemption” preventing some types of local ordinances, such as those limiting rent increases, so those advocacy efforts would have to first be addressed at the state level.  

Do you make the best of opportunities to tell “our” story? Whether it’s acquaintances you see socially or advocates with parallel missions, outreach and education are a vital means of getting others to join your MH advocacy team. What groups can you think of that might also advocate for seniors/veterans, low income families and the disabled? As they say, there is strength in numbers; both in the number of individuals you can recruit and the number of partner organizations you can secure. Groups who have been helpful in my state include California Alliance for Retired Americans, Congress of California Seniors, Gray Panthers, Older Women’s League (OWL), Senior Legislature, Veterans groups, tenant groups, legal services groups and affordable housing advocates. When creating new alliances, there should be an effort to create a reciprocal benefit in supporting each other’s mission to help develop a lasting relationship.

If you are a leader of an individual community homeowner association (HOA), it could be helpful to connect with leaders of other HOAs in your city to work together with one voice in dealing with City officials. In many California cities, MH owners have formed local coalitions to serve as the recognized voice of MH owners in that jurisdiction. Some even have formed Political Action Committees (PACs) that contribute to, and endorse, candidates. It can also be helpful for MH owners to serve on city commissions as a way to get to know city officials and influence their thinking. Volunteering at schools, local senior centers, churches, etc. also provides a means of reaching others outside your typical sphere of influence.  

Belonging to your statewide MH advocacy group and NMHOA are important means of gaining knowledge through communicating with others who directly share your mission and likely have leaders who are familiar with what you are experiencing. These groups have a long history of service and valuable expertise in addressing MH problems, along with partner organizations they work with. They might also be able to suggest local groups to partner with in your area.

For some of the large advocacy groups like AARP, because of their sheer number of members and organizational structure, they have the clout to influence people and get things done. Smaller groups often piggy-back on AARP’s clout in order to get their voice heard and attention paid to their issues. This is especially helpful at the state and national level with legislative advocacy but AARP can also have an impact at the local level through AARP chapters. You should consider joining an AARP chapter to help your voice get heard and tap the resources of support AARP has available.  

The Internet and other social media are constantly creating new and more effective means of communicating with others and even raising funds for our groups. While not all of our constituents have Internet access or smart phones, the number is growing and becoming a larger piece of the networking puzzle. By expanding your imagination of possibilities, you will realize the many opportunities to expand your sphere of influence—good luck!

Renew Your Annual NMHOA Membership!
 
Use the Membership Form and our online payment option to get access to services. 
NMHOA Annual Convention:
Celebrating 15 Years!

October 24 & 25 in Minneapolis, MN

The National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year.  NMHOA was founded by and for manufactured home owners. Our vision and mission remain unchanged – we are committed to working with manufactured home owners anywhere in the United States to assist them as they work for stronger protections, more equitable living arrangements, and long-term security of tenure.

NMHOA’s staff and board have more than 100 years of experience working on manufactured housing issues – indeed we pride ourselves on collectively knowing more about every aspect of manufactured housing living than probably any other MH organization or individual in the country.  NMHOA represents home owners on HUD’s Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee and was also directly involved in a Dept. of Energy Working Group that reviewed energy efficiency standards for new manufactured homes.  We have also been busy at the state level working with Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs) on policy initiatives, local ordinances, and other advocacy to improve the rights of manufactured home owners.

NMHOA staff is also available to assist with grant research and writing.  Please do contact NMHOA’s Executive Director, Ishbel Dickens, at: ishbel@nmhoa.org if you would like help with advocacy, organizing, grant writing, or any other aspect of manufactured home living.  NMHOA is here to help its members help themselves.

Ask Ishbel

Q. What can I do when I think I am being overcharged on water usage?

A: This is a question that NMHOA seems to be getting a lot more often these days. It is a complex question to answer since state laws governing the relationship between home owners and community owners vary substantially.

The first thing to understand is how you are charged for water. Is there a master meter and the community owner simply pro rates an equal share of the bill to each household in the community?  If that is the case, then your water bill ought to be the same as your neighbor’s regardless of individual water usage.

If each household has its own meter, then you may reside in a jurisdiction that does not allow the community owner to make a profit off the public utility. In other words you can only be charged for what you use. You ought to take frequent readings of your meter to make sure there are no leaks. If there is a leak, then it is usually the responsibility of the home owner to fix the leak if it occurs between the hook up and the home. It is usually the community owner’s responsibility it fix any leak from the hook up into the ground.  

As always, it is best to familiarize yourself with your state law governing manufactured home living and to seek legal advice before attempting any self-help remedy. Please contact NMHOA if you need help accessing your state law or other resources in your state.

If you have a question for Ishbel, please email it to her at: ishbel@nmhoa.org
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The mission of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA) is to promote, represent, preserve, and enhance the rights and interests of manufactured home-owners throughout the United States.
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