The Inclusive Economy
ROC USA featured on NPR
By Jimmy Crowell on 05/03/2012 @ 09:56 AM
ROC USA® and CFED have long recognized the struggles faced by owners of manufactured homes when they rent the land beneath their homes in communities or “mobile home parks.” Yesterday, the plight of these individuals was garnering some much needed national attention. Dan Gorenstein of NPR featured Paul Bradley, president and founder of ROC USA, on the All Things Considered to shed light on his organization’s noble efforts to help owners of manufactured homes gain control of their own futures and achieve greater economic security.
In the interview, Gorenstein highlights Bradley’s innovative affordable housing strategy, which brings together residents of manufactured housing communities and helps them form limited-equity cooperatives. The cooperative then purchases the manufactured housing community where their homes are located with financing for acquisition and pre-development expenses often provided by ROC USA Capital. Not only does cooperative ownership increase the value of their homes, it also allows residents to protect themselves from excessive rent increases and poor quality maintenance and infrastructure.
Gorenstein does a fantastic job of framing the issue by bringing in the major actors involved in this conversion process. He draws from both sides of the argument by interviewing homeowners who have benefitted from ROC USA’s work and even a community owner who questions the community management capabilities of cooperatives.
However, the testimonials from residents who have worked with ROC USA affirm the organization’s belief that manufactured homeowners should be afforded the opportunity to preserve their communities and build wealth through resident-ownership. In the interview, one homeowner described how empowered he felt after joining a cooperative and purchasing his community: “I really can have my own place and be a respectable part of community. We were never allowed to do that before, people living in my environment. I’m not a second class citizen anymore. And my wife…we are not second class citizens anymore. And I’ll be damned if we are going to be thought of that way. We won’t allow it.”
The ROC USA approach to resident-ownership is based on the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s model; since 1984, the Community Loan Fund has converted 100 communities into resident-owned cooperatives and nearly 20% of all manufactured home communities in New Hampshire are now resident-owned. ROC USA was launched—with investments from CFED, NeighborWorks® America and the Community Loan Fund— as a direct response to demand from homeowners and community-based affordable housing providers in other states. Since its inception in 2008, ROC USA and its nine network members have come a long way: converting over 35 manufactured housing communities to resident ownership and preserving 2,186 homes across the United States. At CFED, we’re optimistic that ROC USA will continue to grow its network and financing capacity in order to reach a much larger share of the estimated 50,000 manufactured housing communities nationwide.