Task force recommends ROC USA as part of community affordability preservation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – A task force created to find solutions for local governments to protect manufactured home community residents adversely impacted by new community ownership has delivered a dozen recommendations, including specifically connecting “with an organization like ROC USA®.”

The group was formed after several communities in and around Iowa City were purchased by firms that dramatically increased site fees – some by more than 50 percent. The task force’s dozen recommendations were issued in a report here and covered locally by Iowa City Press-Citizen here.

All 12 of the recommendations focus on combating predatory ownership of any of the Johnson County communities that are home to roughly 3,000 families. Along with connecting with ROC USA, some of the other recommendations include providing rental assistance, partnering with local banks to back loans for owner-occupied homes, strengthening zoning ordinances for MHCs, and creating and support legislation to protect homeowners.

The task force connected with Victoria Clark, Real Estate Development Manager at Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. NCF is the ROC USA Network affiliate in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

She said the group put together a list of nearby communities, and about half them were already owned by private equity firms, many being purchased in just the last couple of years.

“They wanted to know what we do, and ways that together we could encourage resident ownership or make some ROCs happen in their area,” Clark said. “Partnership with a coalition like this is really in line with how I envision pipeline development at NCF going forward. We’d partner with local governments and other affordable housing champions and focus on potential ROCs that have existing supportive partners.”

Since the 1980s, resident-ownership has given owners of manufactured homes the security and affordability not seen in much of this vital housing stock. The ROC model was pioneered by the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund before it was brought to scale nationally by ROC USA in 2008.

ROC USA and its network of nine affiliates have preserved 253 communities and more than 17,000 homes in 17 states.