This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
Did you know? Approximately 20 million Americans — or 1 in 18 — lives in a mobile home. The housing option has grown in popularity due to skyrocketing costs of living. In some communities, mobile homeowners can be taken advantage of by greedy corporations intent on hiking up lease prices. Fortunately for some residents who live in the Longmont Mobile Home Community, this is no longer a concern.
As John Oliver pointed out in a recent “Last Week Tonight” segment, one of the greatest pitfalls of owning a mobile home is having to deal with corporations, such as Carlyle Group, TPG, and Blackstone, hiking up lot rentals. In many instances, the cost(s) of moving a mobile home are similar if not more substantial than purchasing a new mobile unit. As a result, homeowners have no choice but to pay the new rental price. If they refuse, they could be evicted from their own homes.
To prevent this travesty from occurring in Longmont, CO, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) partnered with ROC USA® Capital and Impact Development Fund to support the preservation of The Longmont Mobile Home Community (Longmont MHC). According to a news release, the cooperative (LMP Co-op) “eliminates the homeowners’ risk of displacement, gives them more control over lot rent fluctuations, and preserves affordable homeownership in Longmont.”
The loan is to the 36 residents of Longmont Mobile Home Community (MHC) at 525 15th Ave. With the funds, the residents can purchase the land and restructure the property as a resident-owned cooperative.
“When the opportunity came up for us to buy the community, it was pretty exciting” said Mike King, resident and LMP Co-op’s board president. “We own it and are able to set the lot rent based upon an actual budget. We did it!”
For the collaboration, CHFA made a $1.19 million purchase for participation in an existing acquisition loan made by ROC USA Capital. A $1.34 million participation interest was purchased by Impact Development Fund (IDF). The loan was used by the Longmont MHC’s homeowner cooperative to purchase the community’s land, says the news release. The transaction was supported by the City of Longmont through a no-interest, deferred-payment $300,000 loan from its Affordable Housing Fund.
“We congratulate the Longmont MHC homeowners on their tremendous accomplishment. They’ve worked hard to ensure their long-term housing stability. Manufactured home communities are an important naturally occurring affordable housing option for Coloradans and CHFA is proud to play a role in this preservation effort,” said Cris White, CHFA executive director and CEO.
According to Mike Bullard, Communications Manager for ROC USA, each member of the Co-op technically owns a share of the land. It's just not necessarily the land their unit is parked on.
Furthermore, members still pay a monthly rent. The big difference is that the money goes toward the Co-op, rather than a single owner. Every payment goes toward paying off the mortgage and operating costs, including snowplowing, sewage maintenance, and saving for industrial projects.
This specific type of affordable housing finance may be emerging in Colorado, but it is a proven model in multiple states across the U.S.. According to ROC USA, nine other affiliates have helped nearly 250 manufactured home communities become successfully resident-owned and managed. As a result, nearly 17,000 homes have been preserved in the process.
“IDF is very pleased to participate with our fellow market leaders in addressing the incredible economic and redevelopment pressures faced by residents of manufactured home communities. Following the great example of these Longmont MHC residents, we are committed to expanding opportunities for residents and communities across the state in securing their housing needs through self-determination,” according to Sean Doherty, IDF executive director.