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"We Own It" - Supporting homeowners in manufactured home communities



Manufactured housing accounts for about 6 percent of occupied housing stock in the U.S. and is the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the country. Many manufactured housing homes sit on land or “parks” that are rented by the homeowners. While such housing provides an opportunity to address affordable housing needs, the rising land lot rents charged by non-resident private investors—on average 4-6 percent per year—can devastate homeowners, forcing them to make difficult choices between their housing and other needs.


“We own it” can mean many things, but for homeowners in resident-owned manufactured home communities, it means taking back control and ensuring a more stable future. ROC USA® and its affiliates have been enabling residents to take control for decades. Beginning in the 1980s, co-ops were used to bring resident ownership to the community—the residents purchase the land and become owners of the park through a cooperative. Limited-equity co-ops have low-cost shares and help provide permanent affordability to the residents as the land is not used as a profit center but as a community asset to support the residents’ housing needs. These co-ops were initiated in New Hampshire by the nonprofit New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and in California, where a state program supported low-cost share co-ops. In the 1990s, New York and Massachusetts began promoting low-cost share co-ops. Minnesota followed in the early 2000s.


ROC USA developed its national network of nonprofits and national source of capital to make limited-equity co-ops viable nationwide, launching in May 2008. The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) was there early on, supporting the development of resident-owned communities, or ROCs, through grants to ROC USA and its affiliates to support the technical assistance needed to convert investor-owned parks to resident-owned communities.


“I can count on one hand the number of grant makers in cooperative development, a list CDF has topped for decades,” said Paul Bradley, one of the founders and longtime president of ROC USA. “As a new national cooperative development system with state-wide and regional developers—what we call Technical Assistance Providers—we benefited greatly from CDF’s support in the early years when the concept and TA Providers were just taking off. The early investment has paid off: ROC USA currently works with a network of nine developers and a national TA team to serve 326 cooperative Manufactured Home Communities—and 22,000 homeowners—in 21 states. CDF helped at a critical time.”


Homeowners in the communities ROC USA supports are proud of their ownership and what it means for their futures. As Thomas Evans, board president of Two Rivers Community, a 59-home ROC in Lolo, Montana, said, “Before the purchase, you would see people who were staying in their lanes, head down and trying to stay afloat. And there were people who I didn’t even know lived here. But now we have common ground and an understanding for each other. … This isn’t just about money or business—it’s about people’s lives. … To be able to have this togetherness, it kind of pulls at the heart strings.”

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