Seller: ‘We didn’t want to displace everyone that we had grown to know’

11th Montana ROC Members thrilled to become cooperative landowners

BILLINGS, Mont. – Wendy Herman wanted to own a home, but she also wanted something that would be affordable in the long run. 

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She was living in an apartment and wanted a space where she could raise animals. So when she found a manufactured home in C & C Community in Billings, she jumped at the opportunity to live there.

“Basically, for the cost of renting an apartment, I could buy a manufactured home,” she said.

Now that she and the rest of her neighbors purchased their neighborhood, Herman said she’s thrilled that the affordability will be preserved for generations to come. Now that residents decide the budget, Herman said she expects lot rent for residents will remain the same for years to come.

“We don’t have any major upgrades coming,” said Herman, who serves as President of the Board of Directors.

Mary Lou Affleck, the Coordinator for Project Development at NeighborWorks® Montana, kicked off the purchase process with her first ever cold-call to the now-former community owner, Chuck Barrett.

“We were instantly on the same page,” Affleck said. ‘I called at the right time on the right day. I just got lucky.”

Barrett and his family owned the community for more than 40 years and wanted to make sure the residents would be safe.

“It’s now the residents’ – the fact that it is staying a mobile home park was my biggest priority,” Barrett said. “We didn’t want to displace everyone that we had grown to know and some that had turned into family for us. We just felt good about that.”

Herman said she’s grateful for the support Mary Lou and the rest of the purchase team gave throughout the process.

“We never would have done it without her,” Herman said.

With the purchase finalized, Herman said they don’t have any big capital improvement projects on the horizon. Their top priorities are things like getting a new sign for the community and other cleaning projects.

“A lot of it is cosmetic right now,” she said.

The group has already tackled one of their bigger projects: finding a community and office space where people can meet as well as drop off their rent. A shed was recently installed in the ROC to serve as that central meeting place.

Residents purchased their community for $2.1 million on March 28. With the addition of C & C’s 60 homes, there are now 419 homes in 11 Montana ROCs. Nationwide, ROC USA® and its nine affiliates work with 237 ROCs made up of more than 15,500 homes in 16 states.

The co-op will be working with Affleck and the rest of the team at NeighborWorks Montana for the duration of their mortgage – at least 10 years.