Phoenix News Desk

COMING SOON TO A MOBILE HOME PARK NEAR YOU. THE PECULIAR STORY OF MHACTION.ORG.

COMING SOON TO A MOBILE HOME PARK NEAR YOU. THE PECULIAR STORY OF MHACTION.ORG.

Who needs to pay 14 dollars or more to see Logan or The Fate of the Furious in a multiplex when there are free thrills and chills to be had by trying to stomach the crazy hypocrisy of American non-profits? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day, non-profits are paying over 2,700 of their staff more than $1 million per year in annual compensation https://www.wsj.com/articles/charity-officials-are-increasingly-receiving-million-dollar-paydays-1488754532 They are minting millionaires faster than the NFL. While that’s embarrassing enough for many charities that serve wealthy patrons, it’s a scandal when they are enriching themselves off the shoulders of people with meager incomes, and such is the potential plight of MHAction.org.

Here are the facts as we know them: MHAction.org is a non-profit based in Washington, D.C., part of the larger Center for Community Change. Although its website provides no details – not even a street address—a little cyber-sleuthing will uncover their Form 990 report (that all 501 C-3s must file and can be found at www.GuideStar.com). It shows that the Executive Director Deepak Bhargava receives about $257,263 per year. At $24 per annum in dues, that means that the first 10,719 mobile home park members just about fund his compensation. And the next four employees make a total of $1,004,904 – so it takes around another 41,871 mobile home park residents to send in their $24 to cover those folks. So if you are among the first 52,290 members of MHAction.org, you’ve done a wonderful thing; you just covered the salary of five people who are living it up while you’re sitting in your trailer. But you better tell all your friends and neighbors to send in their dues quickly, as the Center for Community Change’s total payroll is more than $9 million. It’s going to take 375,000 members to cover that tab! I wonder if those who join MHAction.org are aware of how their money is being used? Doubtful.

But what really bothers me about these comfortable, lucky nonprofit activists is that they can’t just say “OK, we’re really just a bunch of opportunists milking the system for all it’s worth.” Instead they apparently try to hide who they really are. On the MH Action.org website their address is listed as “P.O. Box 27, New Paltz, NY 12561” while the Center for Community Change’s actual office is in Washington, D.C.  So why the lack of transparency? It’s probably hard to collect the mail in New Paltz when your office is in Washington, D.C. but I imagine it’s worth the extra effort to conceal that you’re dining on pheasant under glass while getting checks for $24 per year from folks subsisting on Value Meals. That’s right, the group is apparently built on donations from those who can least afford them. Here’s the actual (and embarrassing) dues request from their website:

“There are three levels of giving, and MHAction goodies for each level:
$2/month provides access to our quarterly newsletter and a MHAction comic book, illustrating manufactured homeowners’ stories.
$5/month and we’ll throw in a MHAction bumper sticker.
$10+/month and you’ll also receive a MHAction tee-shirt (make sure to include your size).

For the extra-industrious, this great deal is also offered:

“Core Team Leaders make a financial commitment of $24/year to MHAction and are expected to recruit a minimum of 5 yearly supporters of $24/year”.

What a terrific opportunity to not only waste your own money, but even rip off friends and neighbors! What fun!

But of course, don’t forget their great accomplishments to date… actually, I can’t even find a single one mentioned on their website. But they do share stories such as this one from Dale Muzzy of Florida who declares about an ELS mobile home park:

“At first, living there was worry-free. But since, our experience has soured. ELS used to cover water, sewer and trash pickup as a part of our monthly rent. But ELS took away those services, forced the costs on the homeowners and did nothing to reduce our rent. Our community center is falling into disrepair and has just been inspected due to a large number of safety violations. The longer we live here, the more it’s clear to us that ELS communities are operated by predatory equity schemes designed to make Zell very rich.”

Let me get this right; Sam Zell had the audacity to make residents pay for their own utilities? What an outrageous request! One would think that the entitlement era is over and people actually have to pay their own bills these days. I’m not sure, but I suppose that any resentment of Zell’s wealth might be diminished if it was realized how much the folks are making where those $2 dues are going.

Before American mobile home park residents send in their $24, they might want to ask first: “Who are these folks and what is their compensation?” Until charities such as MHAction.org are honest and open about who they are and where their money goes — and how much their leaders are paid — it would appear this is another case of the pot calling the kettle black. At least Sam Zell provides a nice, clean, safe place to live. What does MHAction.org provide other than an undiluted rip-off for their disadvantaged backers? 

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