New Hampshire Union Leader
By: Roger Amsden
January 7, 2010
GILFORD - Residents of Lakes Region Mobile Home Village, a 100-unit community on Old Lakeshore Road, completed the purchase of the manufactured housing park last week.
Using funding, education and technical assistance and training from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund's ROC-NH (Resident Owned Communities) program, residents organized and formed the Lakes Region Mobile Home Village Cooperative, Inc. in October to convert their privately owned manufactured home park into a resident-owned community.
The cooperative then negotiated with park owner Gerd Laudien for the final purchase price of $3.5 million before finalizing the deal.
"Working together with ROC-NH and the Community Loan Fund, our residents now have attained ownership of the land their homes rest on. No one can close the park and force them to move without due cause," said Dick Walker, co-op president, who called that feeling of security "priceless."
"In addition, each resident now has a voice in how the cooperative is governed, maintained and managed," Walker said.
Although the Community Loan Fund works in several areas to connect people and families with the loans, training and education that allow them to buy and keep homes, and have secure jobs and become economically stable, the Concord-based nonprofit is best known for its work in manufactured housing.
Lakes Region Mobile Home Village is New Hampshire's 94th resident-owned manufactured housing community, which provides affordable housing to more than 5,000 families.
Community Loan Fund President Juliana Eades said residents of parks that are not cooperatively owned usually own the building they live in, but not the land it's on. Because of that, they miss out on most of the usual benefits of home ownership, including conventional mortgage terms, the appreciation of their home's value and the availability of equity loans.
"Residents who purchase and run their communities are protected against excessive rent hikes and park closures, and often feel greater pride and investment in their homes and surroundings," Eades said.
The Community Loan Fund was founded in 1983. Its first initiative was the manufactured housing park program that came to the aid of residents of the Meredith Center Trailer Park who were facing eviction when an out-of-state developer was about to buy the land beneath their homes the following year.
"None of the residents had enough cash or credit to do anything about it individually. What may seem like an obvious solution now was unheard of then. The residents banded together and bought the park. A loan through the manufactured housing park program allowed the residents to achieve their goal,'' Eades said.
She said that program has become an award-winning national model and its strategy is now being applied nationally by a spinoff organization, ROC USA.