Julie Eades

"I love my little house"

By Julie Eades

Minnesota homeowner's happy ending was first written in New Hampshire.

The urgent tone with which the woman told her story made clear that she didn't expect us to believe it. "We owned a big house, but after my divorce I lost it to the bank through foreclosure," she began.

With few housing choices she could afford, she decided to buy a manufactured home in a "mobile home" park. It was a lot smaller, but to her pleasant surprise, it met her family's needs perfectly. And she could afford it.

Then, bad news once more. Her park went up for sale. She feared she'd lose her home, again, and her new-found security would be gone, again. But instead of giving in, she dug in. She heard about the possibility that she and her neighbors could own the park, threw herself into learning and organizing, and was soon elected president of the newly formed cooperative.

This February, she and her fellow homeowners bought the park. They are proud to say, "We own it." The roller-coaster ride is over. With a satisfied smile, she surveys her home and knows she won't ever again have to worry about not being able to afford her place.

"I love my little house," she says.

Her home is in Minnesota, but her happy ending was written in New Hampshire in 1984, when a group of homeowners avoided eviction by forming a cooperative and purchasing their manufactured housing community in Meredith. Today there are more than 100 resident-owned communities in New Hampshire, and the conversion strategy developed by the Community Loan Fund is being spread to Minnesota and many other states under the leadership of ROC USA®, which we helped launch in 2008.

The story, then and now, is about security, affordability and community. But this recession brings another value into play: How much home is enough? What if a small, well-built home, in a modest, friendly neighborhood, met our material aspirations? Never has it been truer that less can be so much more more stability, more family strength, and more-sustainable standards of living.

Juliana Eades is President of the Community Loan Fund.