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Background
 
ROC USA®  was formed by several leading non-profit organizations to expand a very successful resident ownership program in New Hampshire to other states.  

Our beginning

Since 1984, the non-profit New Hampshire Community Loan Fund has worked closely with homeowners in manufactured housing communities.  The Community Loan Fund brings technical expertise and loans for pre-development and purchase to homeowners who form cooperatives and jointly buy their community.  
 
Homeowners in New Hampshire now own 20 percent of all manufactured home communities in the state.  As of May 2009, 92 communities have been acquired by the roughly 5,000 homeowners who live in them.  
 
Resident ownership is a good investment – a nice community, affordable rents, and people getting together,” notes Dorothy Hillock, a long-time community leader at the South Parrish Road Cooperative in Winchester, N.H.
 
The Community Loan Fund philosophy of connecting its borrowers with the tools they need to succeed, means its work with resident-owned communities doesn’t end with the purchase of the land.  Services include individual co-op training, leadership development, conferences, and technical assistance for infrastructure projects.
 
The Community Loan Fund has also pushed for improved financing of manufactured homes in resident-owned communities.  With the community now secure, traditional mortgage lenders (as opposed to “chattel” or personal property lenders) have begun lending in New Hampshire’s co-ops.   These lenders include local banks, Fannie Mae, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and New Hampshire Housing (the State housing finance authority).    
 
Not surprisingly, secure land and better financing has resulted in homes in resident-owned communities selling faster and for higher prices than do homes in traditional investor-owned communities.  This was documented in research by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire in 2005.  {PDF 965 KB}

Special qualities identified

New Hampshire has been cited as “having achieved mythical status among homeowners and non-profits,” as the place “where all fingers point every time you ask about manufactured housing,” and as “a source of inspiration for those of us struggling in other parts of the country.”  
 
Responding to demand from homeowners and organizations in other states, Paul Bradley from the Community Loan Fund promoted the idea of a national network and social enterprise to expand New Hampshire’s model nationally.

The launch

In 2008, three national non-profits, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), NCB Capital Impact, and NeighborWorks® America, joined with the Community Loan Fund to create ROC USA and make resident ownership and its benefits possible in more states.  The Ford Foundation provided the majority of the funding to launch ROC USA, with additional support from Fannie Mae, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.
 
Nine statewide and regional non-profits joined ROC USA Network to provide on-the-ground technical assistance to homeowner groups.  
 
ROC USA celebrated its launch in May 2008 at the Lilac Drive Cooperative in Raymond, N.H.   Lilac Drive is noteworthy as the first resident-owned community in the U.S. to be approved by Fannie Mae for traditional residential loans on manufactured homes.  The first of such loans – a new home buyer in the community – was made that July.
 
The ROC USA model of resident ownership has been refined and tested for a quarter-century.  It works.  Homeowners can do it!  To accomplish their goal of security through community ownership, homeowners need timely technical assistance and the right kind of financing.  Of course, ROC USA also strongly supports success through on-going management and leadership support and peer networking opportunities, too.   
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