ROC leader credits Northcountry Cooperative Foundation for communities’ success in landing funding
ST. PAUL, MINN. – The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency announced more than $10.7 million in funding for critical infrastructure projects at ROCs across the state, including Park Plaza Cooperative where leaders said that Northcountry Cooperative Foundation was instrumental in helping them secure the funding.
Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF) is the ROC USA-certified technical assistance provider working with ROCs in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“NCF did most of the work, thank goodness,” said Natividad Seefeld, Board President at Park Plaza Cooperative in Fridley, Minn., and Committee Chair of ROC Association’s Policy and Advocacy Committee. “This is why TA providers and CTAPs are so important. We can’t do this kind of work on our own.”
Park Plaza and six other communities (four of which are ROCs) across the state of Minnesota will be able to upgrade streets and electrical systems, sewers, waste and drinking water and construct community storm shelters for homeowners.
The funding is from the Manufactured Home Community Redevelopment (MHCR) program housed at MHFA, which received $16 million in funding from the Minnesota State Legislature in 2023, the most in the program’s history. Typically, manufactured home communities (sometimes still outdatedly referred to as “mobile home parks”) have private infrastructure, as opposed to municipally managed streets, water and sewer systems. In many communities, the aging infrastructure is failing and in need of critical repairs.
For example, at Park Plaza, the electrical system boxes in the community are all located on poles and if there is a power outage, four to eight homes could lose their power. The funding from the state will be used to give each home its own power source, Seefeld said. The community will receive $1,176,000 to repair the electrical system, sewer lines, perform road work, prepare lots and build and repair fences.
These repairs are instrumental to the overall health of the communities, NCF leaders said.
“Manufactured home owners deserve access to clean water, functional plumbing, and safe streets – something most who live in traditional neighborhoods take for granted,” said Victoria Clark-West, Executive Director of NCF. “The state legislature’s investment in this critical program will ensure the long-term vitality and affordability of these communities for generations to come.”
NCF successfully advocated at the state legislature for the creation of the program in 2017. NCF also helped establish 14 resident-owned manufactured housing cooperatives in the upper Midwest, in addition to serving as a technical assistance provider for the cooperative communities who applied for these grants.
The communities also include:
- Zumbro Ridge Cooperative in Rochester, Minn. – $3,868,000 to improve water and sewer systems, road and sidewalk repairs, and storm sewer improvements. This is phase two of a project that previously received funding from Olmsted County.
- Woodlawn Terrace Cooperative in Richfield, Minn. – $711,972 to replace and repair the deteriorated sewer system, repair roads impacted by the new sewer improvements, add individual water meters, and convert a site-built home to serve as a storm shelter for the residents. This is phase two of a project that was previously funded by the MHCR program. Further, the City of Richfield committed $350,000 to the project.
- El Nuevo Amanecer Cooperative in Gaylord, Minn. – $1,199,258 to complete water and sewer system updates, electrical system improvements, road and sidewalk repair and prepare vacant lots for new homes.
- Hillcrest Community Cooperative in Clarks Grove, Minn. – $2,200,000 to replace an existing aging clay-pipe sewer system, improve water tile infrastructure in the community, alleviate roadway deterioration and install water disconnects.
- Emerald Pines Cooperative in Alexandria, Minn. – $1,074,207 to replace the water and sewer system, replace the community’s private well, repair the electrical system, repair and seal the roads and prepare vacant lots for new homes. Emerald Pines Cooperative is currently converting from a traditional manufactured home community (formerly known as Viking City Mobile Home Park) to a ROC.
- Bois de Sioux Mobile Home Park in Breckenridge, Minn. – $536,800 to replace water and sewer services, repair electrical service boxes, make street improvements, demolition of old garages, preparing vacant lots, and improving surface drainage. Bois de Sioux is currently converting from a traditional manufactured home community to a ROC.
Seefeld is grateful for the funds her community and other communities around the state will be receiving to repair critical infrastructure and knows that continued partnership with all those involved in manufactured home communities is the key to future progress.
“A lot of this is getting done because our voices are being heard more and more. Residents are advocating and getting involved and that has opened the door for more advocacy. It takes a lot of people to do that, and it takes a lot of people to be brave to do that. It’s not an easy task and if you’ve never done it before, it’s scary,” Seefeld said. “But we could not do any of this without people talking for us and pushing for us. Our CTAPs and TAs do that. And we will take all the help we can. It takes a village. It really does.”