Sarah Marchand

Senate Bill 203 would be a win for affordable housing

By Sarah Marchand

A guest blog by N.H. Sen. Kevin Avard about why the Board of Manufactured Housing should be preserved and strengthened.

Strengthening New Hampshire’s Board of Manufactured Housing is our top policy priority this year. It’s important because it gives residents in manufactured-home parks, many of whom have low incomes, a way to appeal rules or decisions by their communities’ owners or boards of directors without the expense of taking their case to court.

Senate Bill 203’s prime sponsor, Sen. Kevin Avard, made the case for its passage in this recently published commentary.

By. Sen. Kevin Avard

New Hampshire’s Manufactured Housing Board doesn’t make headlines. We never hear about it on TV or radio newscasts. But this under-the-radar volunteer board plays a significantly important role in the lives and well-being of residents and owners in the 400-plus manufactured-housing parks in our state.

From disputes over parking, to landscaping, the timeliness of needed repairs, and a myriad of other issues, the Manufactured Housing Board gives residents and owners the opportunity to present their arguments and seek a resolution without having to engage with our overburdened, expensive, and time-consuming court system.

The Manufactured Housing Board is appointed by the governor and made up of residents and owners of manufactured-housing parks with first-hand experience and understanding of the issues going before them. In the 29 years this board has been in existence, it has played a critical role in responding to the changing landscape of manufactured-housing parks.

Perhaps the most significant change is that 145 of the state’s 400-plus parks are now owned cooperatively and managed as nonprofit resident-owned communities. There were only 30 when the board was created.

I sponsored Senate Bill 203 to modernize the Manufactured Housing Board to better serve the needs of park owners, residents, and resident-owners through equal representation and jurisdiction. The bill provides equal representation of private owners and residents on the board and increases its jurisdiction to matters under RSA 301-A, including holding meetings, noticing meetings, transparency of meetings, and expulsion related to consumer cooperative associations.

At a recent hearing on SB 203, residents from privately owned and resident-owned communities testified in support of these changes. Scott Mendoza, a resident of Barrington Oaks Cooperative, explained how this bill would enable residents to address non-compliance by ROC boards by providing a much-needed authority to hear and rule on disputes. A resident of a privately owned park also testified in favor of the changes, saying the bill “addresses the need for park residents’ voices to be heard and respected, where everyone would be given a seat at the table.”

Manufactured housing provides an important affordable homeownership option across New Hampshire. The state’s 27,000-plus manufactured homes provide affordable homes to their owners, 75% of whom have low to moderate incomes.

The Manufactured Housing Board serves an important role in supporting the viability and quality of life for these residents. Its modernization will help stabilize vital affordable housing.

Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) represents N.H. Senate District 12.

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