Affordable Housing Preserved in Longmont, Colo.

LONGMONT, COLO. — Going through the list in his head, Mike King knows who his neighbors are and how long they’ve lived in his 36-home Longmont, Colo. neighborhood.

There’s Anne, right across the street, who has been there for four decades, the longest out of anyone there. Her son, Ricky, lives with her now too. There’s Juan, who used to live with his dad before he bought a house of his own. King’s two sisters are there as well, though he himself moved into the home his parents bought years back when they were looking to downsize.

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“There’s quite a lot of families,” he said. “Our neighborhood is pretty close.”

This bond, King said, has only become stronger after residents purchased their neighborhood on Feb. 1 for $3.2 million and formed LMP Co-op.

Overall, King, who serves as the President of the democratically-elected Board of Directors, said he’s ecstatic about the conversion and grateful for all who helped with the process.

“We did it,” King said.

The ROC Model provides security that manufactured homeowners don’t always have, King said. Over the last five years, he and his neighbors have seen their lot rent rise up to $75 each year and there was always the lingering threat that their neighborhood might be redeveloped.

“When the opportunity came up for us to buy the community, it was pretty exciting,” he said. “We own it and are able to set the lot rent based upon an actual budget.”

Staff from Thistle, the Certified Technical Assistance Provider for Colorado, were a vital help throughout the purchase, according to King.

“They gave us support through the whole process,” he said.

Support for preserving affordable housing in Longmont is something King said many in the area are behind, whether it be residents or city officials. The City Council approved a $300,000 loan in January that helped the residents purchase the community.

“They all got excited about the idea and voted it through,” he said. “They all voted yes. Everybody seemed to be happy about this idea.”

King said the support was indicative of local officials’ desire to preserve the affordable housing stock in the area.

“There just really isn’t any affordable housing in Colorado left,” he said. “It’s kind of a dying thing.”

Going forward, King said some of the projects that will be tackled first are small ones like repaving the roads, tree trimming and some plumbing issues.

“As a whole, the park is in pretty good condition,” he said.

Cooperative ownership of manufactured (sometimes anachronistically called  “mobile”) home communities as a way of preserving affordable neighborhoods is a priority for several national non-profit organizations that in 2008 formed ROC USA® to make resident-owned communities viable nationwide.

Homeowners are able to buy one low-cost member interest in these democratic ROCs. An elected Board of Directors acts on day-to-day issues. Members vote on larger matters, such as the annual budget, bylaws and community rules.

LMP Coop is the second ROC in Colorado and the 230th ROC in the ROC USA network, which is made up of more than 14,700 homeowners nationwide. Rocky Mountain Homeowners Cooperative in Canon City, Colo. became the first ROC in the state last December.

ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a national network of 10 organizations such as Thistle and a national financing source for resident-owned communities. No co-op that purchased with ROC USA’s assistance has ever failed or reverted to commercial ownership, due in large part to the integrated financing and technical assistance model.

“We’re thrilled to see Thistle, community sellers and motivated homeowners drive momentum in Colorado, with two conversions in as many months,” said ROC USA Founding President Paul Bradley.