Just got back from MHI (Manufactured Home Institute) convention in Las Vegas and got quite an education.
ROC USA has its adversaries and has some friends. The industry as a whole doesn’t understand the mission, therefore I guess ignorance breeds contempt. ROCs think in terms of community, park owners think in terms of profits. ROCs think in terms of re-investment, park owners think in terms of profits. ROCs think in terms stable rents, park owners think in terms of more profits. You get the picture.
I met some park owners who when explained the purpose of ROC USA, felt better of us and were much more inclined to look to us and their tenants when they are ready to sell. I met some park owners who were quick to ask, “What is the benefit to me in selling to the residents instead of a private investor?” One would think the answer would be obvious, but when I thought about it, I realized that these owners obviously had no personal connection with their tenants.
I was probably a little tougher on them that I should have been when I suggested that the folks who were instrumental in helping them build their wealth might be the first people they might consider and that our mission was simply to make it possible for them. Some got it, many didn’t, but we planted the seed and that was the mission. As Paul had suggested to me, the ones that get it will be anxious to leave a legacy of their success and what better way to do that than to favor their tenants who will best carry on, continuing to improve on their investment.
We who live in a ROC are the lucky ones. There are many who have not had this opportunity for self-determination and controlled lot fees. It is clear that we in New Hampshire have benefited greatly from the efforts of the NH Community Loan Fund, ROC-NH and ROC USA – just as ROCs in other states have benefitted from their Technical Assistance Providers. The average lot fee increases for the ROCs who just hit their five-year anniversary is about 1.4% a year and is double that and more in most cases for commercially owned parks. Our investment has been preserved for our lifetime.
We use terms like “community” while they use terms like “mobile home park” (nothing mobile about our homes). We use terms like “homes” or “manufactured homes,” they use terms like “trailers” and “mobile homes.” Improving our properties improves our investment instead of a park owner’s investment, just as a community of nicer homes brings an opportunity for higher lot fees while with us it brings greater home values with no relationship to lot fees. ROCs cannot be jeopardized by the uncertainty of what the next investor might do with the property, whether it be to let it run down or sell it to someone interested in converting it.
Yes we are the lucky ones and I for one am thankful to be a part of this movement and to be able to help others enjoy the benefits of being a cooperative. I want to thank Paul and ROC USA for giving me this opportunity to get a glimpse of the industry outside of ROCs. It has given me a greater appreciation as I have known no other way other than living in a ROC. Living in a cooperative has been a wonderful experience and my hope is that I can be helpful to others in helping them to realize the potential for a greater sense of community.
Director, New England Region