Resident Owned Communities have been highlighted by national media as a successful alternative to increased private equity investment in manufactured housing communities amid a nationwide affordable housing crisis.
Sans Souci Cooperative, a Resident Owned Community in Boulder, Colo., was profiled in The New York Times’ Investors are Buying Mobile Home Parks. Residents are Paying a Price.
In the article, reporter Sophie Kasakove notes how the community was purchased by a corporate landlord in 2018 and immediately faced a 12-percent increase in site fees, accompanied by a host of new community rules. When that same corporate owner put the community up for sale two years later, the residents formed a cooperative and purchased, becoming one of three Colorado communities to buy under the state’s new Opportunity to Purchase legislation.
Since their purchase, Sans Souci residents are taking a newfound pride in their neighborhood, and considering investments into community solar and community gardens.
Also in Colorado, Animas View Co-op’s $15 million community purchase was highlighted by The Christian Science Monitor’s article No Landlord: Mobile home community finds stability in self-government.
Reporter Sarah Matusek draws attention to the issues surrounding manufactured home communities: homes are largely immobile, residents own their houses but pay rent for the land their home sits on, they are home to a population with a median household income of $35,000, and the communities are being bought and sold by investors.
At Animas View, under cooperative ownership, the Board of Directors has started a rental assistance fund, hoping it can be used to ensure members of their community can afford to stay during hard times. It’s just one instance of neighbors collaborating with one another in the 120-home community – Members are also volunteering their time toward maintenance projects to keep costs down.
Both NPR and States Newsroom have focused attention on how Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are playing a part of the crisis by offering low-interest government-backed loans to big investment companies, but not to resident groups, forcing low- and moderate-income resident groups to pay far more in interest over the length of their loan than wealthy investors.
Ariana Figueroa, a DC-area reporter for States Newsroom, noted “[Paul] Bradley, the president of ROC USA, said Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could help low-income groups of neighbors purchase their communities by lowering the upfront capital requirement needed to obtain a loan to purchase a community,” in her article ‘Sitting on a time bomb’: Mobile home residents at risk in red-hot housing market.
“Help from Fannie and Freddie would be welcome news for park residents like Charlie Smith who retired to the Brookside Village mobile home park in Plainville, Mass., in 2013,” writes Chris Arnold for NPR in the piece How the government helps investors buy mobile home parks, raise rent and evict people.
Brookside Village, a 55+ Resident Owned Community with 69 homes, purchased in 2020 for $3.6 million.