Those are all good points, and I attempted all of those. They required that the episode start at my house, as they said that National Geographic wants the “personal element”. Additionally, we own ten different properties in St. Louis, with nine of the ten luxury in appearance, but they only wanted to film at the property that dates to 1954. So, in many ways, the story was “spun” to meet the needs of the writers. However, I’m still glad I filmed with them for three days, because it totally changed their views for the better, They were thinking that all mobile home parks are like 8-Mile when they showed up, and left with a far greater knowledge and much less belief in the stereotype. One of the best segments would have been an interview with Justin Donald – who owns several great properties – but they cut that segment probably because he’s too classy and the property looked too nice.
I think they did a decent job with the material, and I was happy with the finished product. Certainly I would have preferred it to be a more upscale property that we own, but I understand that they have to deliver ratings and know their viewers and what they want to see. I can guarantee you that, had I not met with them, the story would have been extremely negative. It’s also important to note that the reason they called me was that MHI (our national lobby) would not talk to them. I have been an advocate – exactly as you suggested – that silence is not golden when it comes to elevating an industry that has a horrible stereotype and stigma. I think discussion of the affordable housing narrative is important to spur the government to take more action, and I was proud of the passage of the Section 8 Voucher program for mobile homes last year. I think people in government are starting to listen. We all just need to keep talking!