Preserve and strengthen NH’s Manufactured Housing Board
By Sarah Marchand
Senate Bill 203, a bill being considered by New Hampshire's legislature this spring, would preserve and strengthen the ability of manufactured-home community residents to arbitrate decisions by their park owners and boards of directors. Here, three ROC leaders explain why it is so important.
By Kim Capen, Pam Rothgaber, and David Kirsch
New Hampshire’s Manufactured Housing Board is a fair place for residents and managers of all manufactured-home parks, regardless of ownership structure, to bring their disputes without incurring prohibitive attorney fees.
There are about 400 manufactured home parks in the Granite State. A third of them, like ours, are owned by the residents and the rest are owned by individuals or large equity investors. SB 203 would ensure the interests of all park owners and residents are fairly represented on this board by restructuring membership to include two park owners, a resident from an investor-owned community, a resident from a resident-owned community, and a housing professional from Housing Action NH. Members would be appointed by the governor. The board chair would have a limited term.
Yet some interest groups want to eliminate the Manufactured Housing Board. Most are equity investors interested in buying up New Hampshire’s manufactured-home parks and maximizing profits by raising rents and avoiding maintenance and improvements.
Every park purchased by an out-of-state investor threatens affordable housing for Granite Staters. A recent news story about residents of Great Brook Village in Belmont illustrates the steep rent hikes and difficult decisions homeowners face when an investor buys their park. “Mobile homes” are not actually mobile, and these residents have no choice but to pay the high rents, sell their home, or abandon it.
We are fortunate to live in resident-owned communities, where we democratically elect our decision-makers and control our finances. When our park came up for sale, we were grateful for the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s guidance to form a cooperative, secure lending, and provide continued support through continuous education and training opportunities for our residents and resident leaders as we manage our community.
Manufactured housing represents 7% of all housing in New Hampshire and the Manufactured Housing Board is critical to helping our communities resolve disputes in a fair and affordable way. It has worked well since 1994 and should be strengthened, not thrown out or studied.
Kim Capen is president of the Mobile/Manufactured Home Owners and Tenants Association of NH and lives in Medvil Cooperative in Goffstown. Pam Rothgaber is board president of Friendship Drive Cooperative in Salem. David Kirsch is board president of Brookside Cooperative in Hill.