Start of the year, end of the year

I have been heads down with report writing the last month and I’ve missed getting my blog together. Well, 2014 was quite a year!

Many individual ROCs accomplished great things in 2014, including Wheel Estates in North Adams, Mass. The co-op completed nearly $1 million worth of infrastructure improvements and is set this year to do another $400,000!

We welcomed 14 new ROCs to the network last year. It is the most limited equity co-op type ROCs ever created in a single year in the history of cooperative development in the MHC sector! That’s what’s possible with a development and support system that gives homeowners a viable opportunity to purchase the land underneath their homes as a community. There are now 163 ROCs in the network of communities connected to a TA provider in ROC USA Network, and nearly 10,000 homes in those communities! We’ll celebrate when the network of ROCs has reached 10,000 in 2015!

We also set a record with 23 ROC leaders coming to the Community Leadership Institute in October in Cincinnati. The 2015 Institute – open to all ROC leaders in ROC USA communities across the U.S., and free to those leaders who are selected – will be on October 15 – 18 in Louisville, KY. I hope you’ll consider applying. It’s a tremendous opportunity to meet other ROC leaders, share ideas, and expand your tool box of skills and resources to lead!

The TA providers in ROC USA Network continue to build capacity and serve ROCs well. In 2014, six CTAPs provided a regional training opportunity for ROCs in six states – Washington, Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. If you have not been to one, I encourage you to go. The most common response from those who attend is how great it was to spend time with ROC leaders who are doing what they’re doing in their community.

ROC USA Capital continues to build its capacity to serve the financing needs of ROCs, closing out the year with a commitment from the National Cooperative Bank to co-lend on projects. The way that works is ROC USA Capital provides the first loss part of each loan so we can attract large, private capital into this market. That’s our role as a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and how we get mainstream capital to lend in this market.

We also launched a beta test for individual home loans for homes in ROCs. The first of these loans closed in November in New York. There again, we are playing a first loss role to get conventional lenders to lend in this market. The financing market for homes in communities is, as you likely know, terrible. We need to attract lenders into our communities. Home financing helps keeps home occupied and lots filled, both key to the economics of resident ownership.

As much as the results of 2014 excite me, I’m really fired up about 2015! We’ll complete our Strategic Plan in June but the centerpiece of the plan is already approved. The ROC USA Board of Directors adopted four priorities that came directly from ROC leaders who participated in the planning process in October at the Community Leadership Institute.

We would also like to hear from you. Join the conversation on ROC Talk and add give us your input into what you think our priorities should be.

Thank you, and happy belated New Year!

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