I met the all-female Board of Directors of Halifax Estates Residents’ Association as they prepared for the October purchase of the community that they call home.
They were smart, dedicated and serious. They also knew how to have fun! It was great to see them focusing on the challenge and enjoying the ride. Their challenge was of historic proportions: Halifax – at 430 homes and $27 million – is the largest limited equity co-op manufactured home community (MHC) in the country.
Halifax Estates is now one of 212 Resident Owned Communities (ROCs) with whom we work. Each is a locally owned co-op operating within a national network of similar communities. Together, these ROCs represent the 15th-largest community operator in the nation!
In 2017, we welcomed 15 new ROCs in seven states: Washington, Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. And, with them, 1,358 new homeowners!
In 2016 and 2017 together, 2,700 homeowners have gained control through co-op ownership. That represents a 20-percent increase in homes secured over the previous 31 years of co-op development.
ROC USA Network also expanded in 2017 to meet the demand for co-op development services in new states. Thistle in Boulder, Colo., joins eight peer Certified Technical Assistance Providers (CTAPs) from across the country in Network.
In every state, we continue to find homeowners want ownership of their communities when they’re provided a viable opportunity to purchase: Of the 20 MHCs that were under contract last year either closed in 2017 or are still under contract.
The Network continues to benefit from continuous innovation in field, with solar projects, energy efficient infill housing, housing finance and regional and bi-state trainings taking place across the country.
Because of the strong performance of co-op borrowers, ROC USA Capital has been able to raise capital and leverage loan participations with banks, insurers, housing finance agencies and other CDFIs. Its total annual lending has exceed $35 million in both 2016 and 2017.
Last fall, we were happy to host 43 ROC leaders for the annual Community Leadership Institute, bringing our nine-year total to more than 160 leaders trained. This year’s class contributed to our Strategic Planning process with valuable input around the need for communications and more peer networking opportunities, among other things.
Looking ahead, in 2018, we are excited to host more than 100 leaders from ROCs across the country at Southern New Hampshire University in a newly formatted community leadership institute. We are excited to grow this much-loved experience as we enter our second decade next spring.
We are also excited to launch the new www.myROCUSA.org, which will play an instrumental role in helping peer leaders connect with one another in person and online.
Our social venture’s second decade and new strategic plan in May will build on these and other amazing results. We remain fully committed and evermore prepared to support self-help grassroots co-ops achieve democratic ownership and economic security.