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Residents Win the Day: “We Are the Landlord”

May 1st, 2017 Comments off
ResidentsWintheDayWeAretheLandlordcreditWickedKingston-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Wicked Kingston.

South of Boston in Kingston, Massachusetts, residents of the Town & Country Estates had a busy day last week.

They bought their community.

According to Wicked Kingston, the residents, with help from (ROC USA) and its affiliate Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), residents of the community were able to realize a dream 10 years in the making, as members of the board for the Town & Country Mobile Home Estates Tenants Association finally signed the papers.

We don’t have to look for a landlord, we are the landlord, so that being a co-op and a nonprofit we’re not out to make any money so the only rent that we’re going to be charging ourselves is that which is enough to sustain the place,” said association President Joe Mauriello.

Mauriello says it was resident Joe Bruno that made the purchase possible, as he initially heard about ROC USA and CDI, the part of ROC USA that helped the association get organized, and contacted CDI’s Andy Danforth. ROC USA has been working with them for the last three years, he said, including the last year of actively working on the purchase.

Without ROC or CDI, we would not be owning this park [sic] today,” said Mauriello.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, ROC USA recently helped residents of the Kayadeross Acres Manufactured Home Cooperative in Ballston Spa, New York, to purchase their community, with papers being signed last Christmas. That story is linked here.

An offer to purchase the community from the previous owner provided Town & Country Estates residents the opening they needed to buy the property for $6.2 million. While there will be an increase in rents, residents say that the stability factor is huge.

ResidentsWintheDayWeAretheLandlordcreditWickedKingston2-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Wicked Kingston.

At a celebration, two cakes were decorated with the words “We own it!” and a sign that reads “Hooray! Tis the day, to ourselves we now will pay. Congrats family!”

For more on ROC USA, including a recent study on rent rates, click here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Residents Buy Deer Ridge Mobile Home Park in Maine

March 2nd, 2015 Comments off

deer-ridge-coop-augusta-maineResidents of the Deer Ridge Mobile Home Park in Augusta, Maine, purchased their community on February 10, joining more than 160 similar cooperatives across the country. Most of the residents of Deer Ridge will tell you their 13-unit community is not in the best shape. Their road has potholes and the siding is falling off of some of the tightly-packed cluster of mostly older manufactured homes. It may not look like much, yet, but it’s all theirs.

Deer Ridge Mobile Home Park co-op board secretary Beverly Chase, left, speaks during an interview on Thursday in Augusta. Other board members are vice president Donna Dennis, second from left, treasurer Gertrude Turcotte and president Mike Morissette. 

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel tells MHProNews that earlier this month the residents joined together to form a cooperative, with the help of multiple nonprofit organizations, and purchased the park together. They became the fourth such resident-owned manufactured home community in Maine, taking control of, and responsibility for, the community they call home.

“We’re all low-income, and we know what it’s like to live in apartments. When you own your own home, you’re going to work harder on it,” said Donna Dennis, 56, a two-year resident of the park and vice president of the new co-op’s five-member board of directors, all residents. “You should be able to be proud of where you live. I’m extremely proud we own it.”

The new co-op of residents, who already owned their own manufactured homes in the park, and were renting only their lots, closed on the property with assistance from Cooperative Development Institute, a technical assistance provider with the Resident Owned Community USA Network. This group is a national non-profit organization that works to help residents of manufactured home communities form cooperatives and buy their communities. Some funding came from Genesis Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit that provides low-interest loans to help provide affordable housing.

Jessica Pooley, a cooperative development specialist with the Cooperative Development Institute, said the organization had learned of the park and thought it might be a candidate to become resident-owned. So she went to see it for herself.

“I drove through the park to look at it and when I left, I cried,” Pooley said, explaining that she doesn’t often do that. She said she wondered, “How am I going to sell this, to get others to help, knowing it is so run-down?” She said she knew it was going to be a money pit.

One positive note about the property, however, was the fact that it had a large parcel of undeveloped land attached to it.  Pooley felt the land could be used to expand the community and provide additional affordable housing in Augusta. As it is now, the existing manufactured homes are squeezed onto just two acres of a roughly 60-acre, largely undeveloped tract.

Pooley started knocking on doors, and found residents, if initially skeptical, who were willing to talk about the idea. One of the first she met was Beverly Chase, 64, a 20-year resident of the community who is now secretary of the board. Chase’s unit is home to her and nine others, mostly family members,

“I was skeptical at first. We couldn’t believe somebody would want to help poor people like that,” Chase said of her initial reaction to meeting Pooley, without whom, she said, they never would have been able to take ownership of the community.

Former Non-profit owners were not able to do much for the community.

The community was previously owned and operated by Homeworkers Organized for More Employment, or HOME, an Orland-based nonprofit group that creates employment for, and provides services to, low income individuals and families. The other co-owner was the St. Francis Community, which got involved in the early 1990s, according to Lawrence Reichard, assistant director of HOME Co-op. The organization stepped in after Maine State Housing Authority asked if it would be interested in running it after the city condemned it because the septic system was overflowing and the private owner at the time couldn’t afford to fix it, Reichard said.

HOME, too, tried to create a co-op of residents to own this community, and started forming one that never really became a functional co-op, according to Chase and Reichard. So, instead, HOME bought and ran the park. Chase said residents, at the time, couldn’t seem to pull the fledgling co-op together, and it fell apart.

This time, she and other residents are confident they can work together and make their group ownership a success. “I don’t believe it will fall apart,” Chase said. “We’ve got Jessica’s help, and we’ve got a good core group here. If we work together, I think it’s going to work. I’m going to give it my all.”

Residents said the community hasn’t been maintained in recent years, and HOME officials have been unresponsive when they’ve called them about problems or a lack of maintenance. Reichard said the organization is not a professional property management company, and was concerned if it raised the rent too high to pay for a higher level of upkeep, it could price residents out of the community.

“We did our best, with limited resources,” Reichard said, noting it was never the group’s intention to run the community, which he noted is a fair distance away from their Orland base. “We’re extremely pleased the residents have formed a co-op to buy the community. We’re very excited for them. This is what we wanted all along and we wish them all the best in the world.”

Residents make changes through democratic process.  

Decisions about how to run the community, and how much rent to charge, are now being made democratically. The park is overseen by the board of directors, but major decisions, such as how much rent to charge for lots, are made by a vote of all resident-owners. Five members who were the only ones to express interest in it were appointed initially, but a formal election is set for Sunday.

Mike Morissette, 59, a 10-year resident of the community, and the first president of the co-op’s board of directors, said the first thing they needed to do, and need to continue to do, is to “make sure everyone gets along.”

The first vote of the membership, which Pooley said was a unanimous vote, was to raise the lot rent, from $140 to $180 a month, a rate which Morissette said is still well below other communities, and includes water and septic on the community’s private systems.

Residents said raising the rent was necessary because they’ve got plans for the place, including a new leach field, road improvements and a culvert to allow access across a stream to the large parcel of undeveloped land out back.

Gertrude Turcotte, 71, who has lived in Deer Ridge for 12 years, and is the group’s treasurer, said what is best for the community is what guides the group’s decisions on what improvements and actions should be made.

Residents who don’t pay their rent, or break other community rules, after a warning process, may be taken to court and evicted by the co-op. Dennis said the task of enforcing the rules is one of her roles in the group.

Present group hopes to attract more residents.

Now that they have ownership, they also have big plans. Their long term goal is to develop some of the land, either as lots to rent or have the co-op buy more homes and put them in place to rent. While more residents would bring in more income, group members said their first priority is to keep them affordable, so others can gain the benefits of owning their own homes they now have.

“This is a low-income community, and we want to keep it that way,” Dennis said. “We hope to expand so there is more affordable housing here. We’d like to make a play area for children, maybe a community garden, and make this a nice, safe, family community.”

Amanda Bartlett, executive director of the Augusta Housing Authority, a quasi-municipal group which seeks to help provide affordable housing, said an expanded, cooperatively owned community could help provide more affordable housing in Augusta.

“Hopefully this initiative will expand homeownership opportunities to lower income residents as many Augusta residents struggle to afford the median home price,” Bartlett said. “The co-op model is great in that when residents become owners, they are empowered to strengthen their community and define their own sense of place. The answer to our shortage of affordable housing doesn’t lie in one solution, but rather a patchwork of ideas and people coming together towards a common goal of giving people a safe and affordable place to call home.”

Resident-owners of the park each buy one share of the co-op, for $100, which, if they sell their unit, they can sell to the new owner. That share also gives them one vote when it comes time to make decisions about the park.

Pooley noted ownership also gives the residents some control over their own destiny, allows them to decide how much their rent will be, to get rid of service providers if the group doesn’t like their work, and prevent an outside owner from selling the park out from under them.

President Mike Morissette joked that because he and other residents will no longer be able to pick up the phone and call the owner of the community to complain about things, instead he’ll look in the mirror, and complain to himself. ##

(Photo Credit:  Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel)

sandra-lane-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-75x75-Article submitted by Sandra Lane to – Daily Business News – MHProNews.

Residents want to Buy their Land Lease Community

May 1st, 2014 Comments off

Updating a story MHProNews.com last posted April 25, 2014 concerning an MHC in Richmond, Maine that was ordered closed due to water and sewer problems because owner Russell Edwards allegedly said he could not afford repairs, residents now want to buy the community. According to wmtw.com, while Edwards is scheduled to go before the state’s Manufactured Housing Board May 7, 2014, the residents of Meadowbrook Park held a conference call with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), a nonprofit that assists in buying out the owner and becoming cooperatively owned. A vote is set to be taken Sunday, May 4 about resident ownership

(Photo credit: iberkshires.com–flooded manufactured housing community)

Massachusetts Community becomes Resident-owned Co-op

April 11th, 2014 Comments off

According to nashobapublishing.com, the Wayside Community Association, Inc. has purchased its own community, Wayside Estates in Shirley, Massachusetts facilitated by Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), a part of Resident Owned Communities (ROC) USA, based in New Hampshire. Wayside has set up committees to oversee the upkeep of the 64-homesite community and has retained Julie Geren of Greenleaf Property Management as the new community manager. MHProNews.com understands association members now own their own community with a new sense of purpose. Those who do not belong will still pay rent but have no say in the operations. ##

(Photo credit: ROC USA–residents celebrate ownership)

Co-op Assumes Responsibility for Managing Community

May 7th, 2013 Comments off

Following up on an article we published April 4, 2013 about residents of Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park in North Adams, Mass. becoming a resident-owned community (ROC), iberkshires reports the residents made their first official decision as owners St. May 4, voting to maintain the rules and policies set by former owner Morgan Management. Over 60 residents and shareholders celebrated their ownership at the recreation hall with a large cake, the end result of a $4.1 million finance package for the acquisition and repairs, with the help of ROC USA, as well as technical and start-up assistance from the Cooperative Development Institute of Shelburne, Mass. One of the first orders of business for the new owners will be long-needed infrastructure repairs, although as MHProNews has learned, bids are also being solicited for upgrading the roof, windows, electrical system, insulation and handicapped accessible bathrooms in the recreation hall.

(Photo credit: ROC USA–new owners of Wheel Estates)

ROC Strikes Again

April 4th, 2013 Comments off

Updating a story we posted Feb. 27, 2013 concerning residents of Wheel Estates MHC in North Adams, Mass. trying to buy their community, iberkshires informs MHProNews the nearly $4 million loan went through, financing managed by ROC (resident-owned communities) USA of New Hampshire. For years residents have allegedly complained the 42-year-old community, owned by Morgan Management LLC, needed repairs that were not done, and once Morgan sent notice it wanted to sell, the residents had 45 days to come up with a financing plan to buy the property. 105 households, over half the community, paid the $100 fee to become shareholders of the not-for-profit corporation, which virtually guarantees the deal is sealed, allowing the co-op to move ahead and elect its board of directors. In addition to ROC, Wheel Estates is receiving technical and start-up assistance from the Cooperative Development Institute of Shelburne, Mass.

(Photo credit: ROC USA)