Purchase brings control and boosts sense of community in new Mass. ROC

HINSDALE, Mass. –  A community’s grit and determination along with state legislation that allows residents the opportunity to purchase their manufactured home communities helped secure future homeownership for Bissellville Estates residents at the end of last year.

On Dec. 18, 2023, homeowners purchased the community for $600,000 with an additional $189,000 borrowed for infrastructure repairs.

“It feels pretty good,” said Gary Bird, Board President at Bissellville. “It was a challenge, but at least we are doing it, and we are in control of how we are doing it. There is no stress of someone else coming in here and turning everything upside down. That makes us feel a lot more comfortable now because we are not going to go broke and pull our hair out stressing to have to find another place to live.”

“There is no stress of someone else coming in here and turning everything upside down.”

Gary Bird, Board President

Bissellville Estates is a 29-home community in the beautiful Berkshires area of Western Massachusetts. With its rolling hills, expansive forests, lakes and rivers, there are many summer camps in the area and Bissellville Estates was originally developed as a campground in the 1960s – it’s like its own little village nestled away in the woods. The resident owned community also has one site-built home that Bissellville plans to sell to generate money for the ROC and use for capital improvement projects – replacing electrical meters and repairing roads are at the top of the list.

Financing for Bissellville was provided by ROC USA® Capital, a Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution. 

“ROC USA Capital is extremely pleased to be working with the homeowners at Bissellville Estates to enable them to secure their long-term economic future by buying the land beneath their homes,” said Michael Sloss, managing director, ROC USA Capital. “We understand that the elderly couple who sold Bissellville Estates to the homeowners was no longer in a position to effectively manage the community due to age and ill health. In such circumstances, which ROC USA Capital has seen before, it is gratifying that the sellers wanted the homeowners to succeed them as the new stewards of this community. We look forward to hearing more about the community improvements that will be undertaken in the coming months and years.”  

Bissellville is the 29th ROC in Massachusetts and the 317th ROC across the United States. Prior to purchase, like most manufactured home communities, residents of Bissellville owned their homes, but not the land beneath them. This arrangement leaves homeowners vulnerable to rent increases and eviction, a risk that can increase when the properties are put on the market. By purchasing the community themselves, homeowners are now in control of major decisions like community rules, infrastructure projects, and lot rent. 

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Community leaders sign papers to officially make Bisselville, a 29-home community in the beautiful Berkshires area of Western Massachusetts, a ROC.

“They are a great group to work with,” said Nora Gosselin, technical assistance provider for Cooperative Development Institute, the Certified Technical Assistance Provider, who, along with Andy Danforth, played an integral role in guiding Bissellville homeowners through the purchase process. “Especially Gary. The original president of the community moved away halfway through this process, and it was really commendable of Gary to step into that position. I think it took a lot of heart stepping up in a critical moment, and morale was important to keep up. The Board definitely set that tone.”

Bird is excited about the future and looking forward to the stability of the ROC.

“The security of knowing that the home I own is now on land that is not being controlled by a profit-hungry company or an individual looking to change all we are used to just to maximize their investments is priceless,” Bird said. “Honestly, if CDI never came along this would’ve never happened. The logistics involved are not something any ordinary folks would be privy to but Nora and Andy fully instilled hope and knowledge when we needed it most. Now after all is said and done, not only do we have control of our future, but we have a closer community as well.”