Tara Reardon

Park owners view resident ownership as a good deal for all

By Tara Reardon

Manufactured homes are one low-cost, common-sense solution to America's lack of housing for our workforce and our elders.

Our friend Andrea Levere had a great commentary in Saturday's New York Times about the stereotypes that cling to manufactured homes (often referred to as mobile homes). You need look no farther than the comments left online to see some of those outdated perceptions.

Andrea, who is president of CFED and board chair of  ROC USA®, is deeply committed to promoting the reality of modern manufactured housing as affordable, secure (if located in a resident-owned community or on the homeowner's land), comfortable and even energy efficient.

A modern manufactured home on a hillAt a time when the lack of workforce housing pinches municipalities and businesses, and when the graying of America pushes community planners to rethink housing laws, manufactured housing is a low-cost, common-sense solution.

We've been helping residents of manufactured-home parks buy and manage their communities in N.H. for 30 years now. During that time, one group of people that has changed its perception of residents is, interestingly enough, the park owners.

Many of N.H.'s manufactured home parks are mom-and-pop businesses, so it isn't surprising, or unusual, that many owners form friendly relationships with long-time tenants. When resident-ownership was a new and mostly unproven concept, some owners resisted selling their parks to residents not because they didn't want them to own it, but because they didn't want them to fail.

There are now 108 resident-owned communities in N.H. None has failed, and owners' concerns are dissolving. In just the past year we've had a dozen discussions with park owners who wanted to explore selling to the residents who have provided them with a good living.

Resident-ownership hasn't been feasible in some of those cases, but we're heartened that owners view it as a positive. They've seen that they can get their price, have a smooth sales process, and put the community in the hands of the people who care most about it.

When you think about it, what's not to like?

When the people closest to those living in manufactured housing have become convinced of their abilities, talents and resolve, maybe it's time for the rest of the country to follow suit?

Tara Reardon is Director of ROC-NH™.

ROC-NH™ is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider.
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC.