Mobile Home News
News / Industry

FACTORY HOME LIVING: Why Can't They Get The Story Straight

Len Bonifield, www.theledger.com - September 2, 2006

Pamela Hasterok, a columnist for the Daytona Beach News Journal who writes the column Fresh Talk, got her facts wrong -- not in one article but in two.

In her June 15 column she wrote about a mobile home community on Seabird Island.

Let's look at several incorrect statements she made in this article.

First, she used the term "mobile home" throughout, which is incorrect. HUD changed the name to mobile homes for all homes built after 1976. It seems to me that if a U.S. government department changed the name that many years ago she should be aware and drop the use of mobile home. One of the reasons the mobile home industry has a bad reputation is due to the media continuing to use a term that many consider derogatory.

She also wrote, "What on earth were Port Orange officials thinking when they permitted mobile homes in the middle of a river? Sure, that was 50 years ago, but the geography was the same. Weren't they afraid a hurricane would wash them away? Didn't they worry folks might die?"

Imagine that! Fifty hurricane seasons have gone by and the homes haven't washed away yet.

Her best was this statement: "State officials might well ask themselves that of all mobile homes, regardless of where they're located. (This referred to an earlier statement: how in the world did those homes get there?) If wimpy Alberto washed out streets and turned lawns into streams, it seems clear that mobile homes don't belong in Florida. Most of the state lies in a flood plain. Almost all of it is vulnerable to hurricane force winds. If lawmakers had the welfare of its citizens in mind, they would ban trailer parks."

Hasterok repeated her diatribe on the mobile home industry in an article dated July 31. She visited a community to gain the residents' perspective on why residents felt safe in their homes. However, she wrote that happy residents can't convince mobile home skeptics. She repeated her statement, "It still seems clear to me that mobile homes don't belong in Florida." She went on to say, "Outlaw mobile homes and relocate their residents to safe affordable housing."

Oh, how wrong can you be? It is evident that Hasterok failed to do any research on the safety of today's manufactured housing. Let's look at some of the facts she should have considered before she wrote her columns.

HUD Code Wind Zone III homes are equal in strength to site-built homes built to withstand 130 mph winds This was written by William W. Matchneer III, HUD's associate deputy assistant secretary for Mobile Home and Regulatory Affairs.

A study by a University of Florida professor concludes that modern manufactured housing is comparable to, and in some case is better than, site-built structures and at a more affordable price.

A couple of excerpts summarize highlights of the paper titled "Safety, Sustainability and Public Perception of Manufactured Housing in Hot, Humid Climates:"

1. Biased media coverage following an unprecedented 2004 Atlantic hurricane season has contributed to a feeling among prospective U.S. homebuyers that manufactured housing is unsafe. Columns like those written by Hasterok.

2. What were some of the conclusions of this report? Most of the section on safety deals with the fact that modern mobile homes suffered no significant structural damage during the 2004 hurricane season, while homes built prior to 1976 did not perform as well.

A Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report dated Aug. 24, 2004, stated that of all the mobile homes built to meet the post 1994 standards in Hurricane Charley's path, not one received any structural damage.

After the 2004 hurricanes, Gov. Bush stated, "The new codes are working," in describing the outstanding performance of post 1994 modern mobile homes.

I sincerely hope that columnist Pamela Hasterok will take note of this column and, hopefully, it will motivate her to want to do some research on the quality and safety of modern mobile homes. If she gets her facts right she will see the error of her ways, remember that they are mobile homes, not mobile homes and they are as safe or safer than site-built homes.

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