Technical Assistance is crucial to the ongoing success of Resident Owned Communities – but what is it, exactly? In this episode of Ownership Matters, we’re joined by Tory Clark, the Executive Director of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, to talk about all things technical assistance, from problem-solving and governance to supporting community leaders through educational and leadership opportunities! Tory has worked closely with ROCs since 2016 and brings a wealth of knowledge to the conversation.
Episode: Talking Technical Assistance with Tory Clark of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation
Welcome to the Ownership Matters podcast, where hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard highlight the stories of people at the heart of the manufacturer housing, and resident-ownership movements. ROC USA—an organization working with resident owners in manufactured home communities—offers these resources for various listeners. In this episode, Paul and Mike welcome guest Tory Clark, of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. Together they will discuss a wide range of topics including her favorite parts of her job and the stigma around cooperative housing.
0:28 – Guest, Tory Clark, introduced
Hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard introduce Tory Clark, Executive Director of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. She took on this role in September of 2020, but first joined NCF in 2016. She has led the formation of new resident-owned communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa since 2019. As a ROC USA Certified Technical Assistance Provider, they work with 12 ROCs in their region.
1:30 – Tory shares about her background and interest in affordable housing
Tory grew up in a small town called Saint Janes, Minnesota, where her parents are both Presbyterian ministers. She took interest in public policy, writing and teaching and was an English major in college. Two things motivated her career in affordable housing. First, her hometown, which had a clear lack of affordable housing. Second was her father’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s when she was just 17. She observed housing to be the point around which everything pivoted.
5:10 – Tory’s attraction to the coop sector
Tory’s first job post-college was at a statewide affordable housing advocacy agency. What she felt missing in the discussion was ownership. It wasn’t until she started at NCF that she fell in love with the model.
7:25 – Tory’s role in Technical Assistance
Many of the ways they interface with communities is via technical questions related to governance, policy, election etc. Technical assistance exists to help communities troubleshoot, work through problems and navigate governance questions. The more ambiguous elements of her role exist behind the scenes. She isn’t just a third-party consultant but maintains a deep relationship with the communities she supports. In fact, its foundation is strong relationships.
11:36 – Tory discusses the relationship with Minnesota’s first housing cooperative
Minnesota’s first resident-owned community, Sunrise Villa, dates back to 2004. They predate the creation of ROC USA, thus their financing situation looks a little different than average.
14:35 – Example workshops at NCF Regional Training
Receiving feedback and structuring training sessions based on the needs of clients are highly emphasized at NCF regional meetings. A few examples of sessions this year include fair housing, property management practices and how to fill vacant lots. Often, people come with the intention of building relationships with others in the resident-owned communities.
17:32 – Source of Tory’s passion for the communities she serves
Her experience conducting day-to-day technical experience work is what drives Tory the most in serving her communities. The capacity for leadership is always there, and NCF just opens the doors for these abilities to be realized. The real strength is in community. She believes that when you love where you live, it attracts the right energy and resources for it to flourish even more.
24:15 – Tory reflects on her own leadership principles at NCF
Tory’s background is a huge reason for her excitement in her new role. She is excited to grow and build on areas where the organization is already doing well. She also looks forward to getting in touch with the communities served by the organization and hearing direct feedback from individuals. She has found that the best ideas come with community.
27:32 – Tory discusses the resident-led coalition to purchase land in Minnesota.
The coalition was composed of individuals from both resident owned and non-resident owned communities. They were supported by a statewide homeowner advocacy association, NCF and several others. The legislation is getting traction country-wide.
30:40 – What is HFA doing in Minnesota today?
In response to the growing public outcry for preserving affordable housing, the Minnesota State Housing Finance Agency has stepped up. A separate office program was established dedicated to manufactured housing and programs have been built on.
33:50 – Tory’s gratitude and thank you for joining
To coop leaders around the country, Tory expresses her deep gratitude. She believes none of this could be possible without resident leaders and community engagement.
35:25 – Thank you for listening
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