George Allen / EducateMHC Blog Mobile Home & Land Lease Community Advocate & Expert

May 26, 2023

‘He Made a Difference’

Filed under: Uncategorized — George Allen @ 6:42 am

Blog Posting # 743, Copyright 25 May 2023. EducateMHC

Parallel Perspectives. HUD-Code manufactured housing is federally-regulated, performance-based, affordable factory-built housing! And lean lease communities, (a.k.a. manufactured home communities & ‘mobile home parks’) comprise the investment real estate component of manufactured housing! EducateMHC alone is the online advocate, historian, trend tracker, and text resource for these two business models! To input this blog or connect with EducateMHC, telephone (317) 881-3815; email:; or visit, to order Community Management in the Manufactured Housing Industry. This is the sole professional community management text in print today! And, SWAN SONG is a history of land lease communities, and official record of annual MH production totals since 1955; and my autobiography, From SmittyAlpha6 to MHMaven – describes combat adventures in Vietnam and 40+ years business career in MH and communities

George Allen, CPM®Emeritus, MHM® Master, Emeritus member of the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’), RV/MH Hall of Fame enshrinee, retired lieutenant colonel of U.S. Marines, and author/editor of 20 non-fiction books.

‘He Made a Difference’

            The late Sam Zell’s desired legacy, as stated on page # 206 of his autobiography ‘Am I Being Too Subtle?’ was simply: “He Made a Difference!” And a difference he certainly made! While there’s a lot that can be said about Sam’s long life and multifaceted career, I’ll simply share anecdotes germane to manufactured housing and land lease communities.*1

            One observation, so significant it risks being overlooked, is that during his lifetime Sam Zell amassed the largest real estate investment property portfolio of land lease communities in the entire world! By the time I retired in 2021, Sam’s public company, Equity Lifestyle, Inc., (‘ELS, Inc.’), a real estate investment trust (‘REIT’) owned nearly 400 such communities, comprised of almost 150,000 rental homesites nationwide!*2

            But what the real estate investment public does not generally know is, through the efforts of Sam’s top land lease community executive at the time, Randall (‘Randy’) Rowe – today founder/head of Green Courte Partners, Sam’s firm ELS, Inc. (then MHC, Inc.) was one of three firm’s ‘going public’ as REITs: ELS, Inc., Chateau Communities, Inc., and Sun Communities, Inc. A fourth firm, United Mobile Homes (‘UMH, Inc.’) – now UMH Properties, Inc., had been a REIT since the 1980s. All this occurred during 1994, six months to a year after 19 (then) manufactured home community owners/operators met in Indianapolis, IN., on 31 August 1993 to form an Industry Steering Committee (‘ISC’) – the first national advocate for the real estate asset class. Most of ISC’s efforts were directed toward Wall Street analysts, convincing them of the financial viability of this unique type real estate investment. Then, on 1 January 1996 ISC was rebranded as the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (‘MHI’) National Communities Council ‘NCC’), later designated a division of MHI. All this would not have happened if not for Sam Zell’s interest and support regarding better representation for land lease communities. For more about this truly historic chain of events, read the late Bruce Savage’s ‘The First 20 Years!’, published in 2013.*3

            An enduring personal and corporate heritage. Sam Zell, by authoring his autobiography ‘Am I Being Too Subtle?’ ensured himself an enduring place in manufactured housing history. While the majority of this book covers other aspects of Sam’s life story, he does give ‘more than a nod’ to land lease communities – though he refers to them in a different manner. He tells the reader, “Some of my most lucrative investments seemed counterintuitive – manufactured home communities.” Know what? To date, no other contemporary major portfolio owners/operators of land lease community REITs have followed Sam’s heritage example! Though, we do have autobiographies by Jim Clayton, Al Schrader, and Jim Scoular; and the late pioneers Kris Jensen, Sr., George Goldman, the Cohron twins, and Dr. Matthew Jenkins.*4

            How interesting can it be to ‘tell your story’ in memoir (i.e. ‘short story’) format or more? In Sam’s autobiography he relates this about his late friend and executive at ELS: “Howard Walker…once said he felt like he was walking into the inside of a Juicy Fruit wrapper when he visited (our offices), i.e. We invented business casual.” Now, wouldn’t you like to know more about what that remark means? Howard did not leave us his side of that tale. But I will tell you this, walking into Sam’s office was always an ‘antique road show – like experience’. One example; the large carved wood hand holding a scale-sized business card. Significance? Allegedly, if you pissed Sam off, he’d remove your business card from his file and mail it back to you!

            So, are you making a difference within your personal and corporate spheres of influence? I hope so. And if you are, then maybe now is time for you to contemplate the past and future and how you’ll be viewed and remembered years from now. Just as I used passages from Sam’s book to pen this valediction about him. Need some help to this end? Send me an email via, and when the new booklet ‘Who Will Preserve Your Legacy? Answer: You!’ is ready for distribution (soon), I’ll mail you one for FREE. Be sure to include your postal mailing address.  GFA

End Notes.

  1. Sam Zell’s autobiography, ‘Am I Being Too Subtle?’ is available for purchase via, and is also included in the Allen Collection of Land Lease Community Resources at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN. The RV/MH Hall of Fame library also houses all autobiographies mentioned in this blog posting.
  • This information quoted from the 29th annual ALLEN REPORT, included as Appendix I in the land lease community history text, ‘SWAN SONG’, available via
  • Watch this blog posting for the release of a new edition of ‘Who Will Preserve Your Legacy? Answer: You!’, and related information, in the Allen Legacy column in an upcoming edition of ‘MHInsider’ magazine.


            And where will you be the Monday evening of 21 August 2023? I know I plan to be at the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s Hall of Fame Induction Banquet in Elkhart, IN. Why? Because it’s the one time each year when hundreds of the crème’ de la crème’ of manufactured housing & recreational vehicle industry pioneers and notable individuals gather for an evening of socializing and honoring ten men and women being ushered into the prestigious Hall of Fame.

            Will you join me? Order event tickets via (574) 293-2344 or visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame website for more information. This year, Spencer Roane and I plan to host one or more tables at the banquet. Interested in joining us? When ordering and paying for your tickets, inform the Hall of Fame staff you would like to sit at one of the tables hosted by Spencer and me. Then let me know via email:, so we know to expect you. Trust me when I tell you it’s always a fun evening, seeing old friends, making new ones, and celebrating the rich history of these two industries. See you there!

            If you have not yet toured the new (in 2022) manufactured housing exhibit hall at the RV/MH Hall of Fame facility in Elkhart, plan to do so on the 21st. Arrive early in the day, tour one or both exhibit halls (other one is for the RV industry), patronize the well-stocked store (i.e. books, clothing, souvenirs, and more), and then return to your hotel room to freshen up and dress for the evening festivities.

            While I haven’t made formal arrangements to this end yet, I am willing and able, on request, to spend an hour or two with anyone who’d like to learn more about researching and writing their personal and corporate memoirs (i.e. short stories), and how to maybe eventually compile them into a self-published autobiography. By that time, the aforementioned booklet: ‘Who Will Preserve Your Legacy? Answer: You!’ will be ready for distribution. Anyone who spends time with me on the 21st will receive a FREE copy of the newly updated publication. Here too, let me know of your interest via email:

            And here’s yet another thought. Are you interested in being inducted into the RV/MH Hall of Fame – or to nominate a friend or business associate for this honor? I’ll make myself available to you, to that end as well, if you’ll arrange to do so ahead of time. Just let me know of your interest, again, via email.


“No ordinary American cares about Constitutional Rights.” Joe Biden


From a Housing Alert from the Manufactured Housing Institute (‘MHI’): Today (5/19/2023) the Department of Energy (‘DOE) announced it will delay the compliance date for the Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing.” This is the result of a huge public outcry to the DOE from major housing manufacturers, state housing associations, and more than 500 campaign form letters motivated by MHI. There’s still work to be done!

MHARR’s Two-part ‘Issues & Perspectives’

In the first part, dated June 2023, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (‘MHARR’) addresses “the negative impacts of zoning discrimination and inequity”, originally put forth in its’ July 2022 White Paper. The second part (still to come) will address “the failure to implement DTS (i.e. Duty to Serve) and resulting lack of fully-competitive consumer financing for HUD-Code manufactured homes.”

It’s no secret, the animosity between our (MH) industry’s two national advocacy groups headquartered in Washington, DC and Arlington, VA. After three long pages of verbiage on the first matter, there’s this thinly-veiled diatribe: “…the national association which collects dues payment from the industry’s post-production sector has failed to take aggressive action to demand an end to discriminatory zoning exclusion and inequity that harms both the industry and millions of Americans in need of affordable housing.”

How to comment on this accusation? The target here is also a national association, which – following the money, is and will likely always be, at the behest of who pays the most (Think HUD-Code housing manufacturers)! At the same time, the post-production sector certainly has an agenda of its’ own (e.g. end discriminatory zoning & inequity), and is perfectly capable of launching out on its’ own again (i.e. Recalling what happened on 8/31/ 1993 and ten years earlier) to make its’ displeasure known and begin corrective action. But this has not happened to date, and in my opinion, will not occur. Why? Because the elected powers that be, in one particular sector division, are high-salaried executives with large portfolio firms and evidently happy with the status quo they control*1

If you agree or disagree, let me know via

End Note.

  1. 8/31/1993. Read about birth of the ISC cum NCC in ‘He Made a Difference’ story. And in mid-1980s, disgruntled members of MHI left to form the MHARR.

George Allen

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