Carol Hodgkins from Wardtown Mobile Home Cooperative in Freeport, Maine and Stephen Hamlin from North Avenue Cooperative in Burlington, Vt., join us to discuss their experiences hosting tours in their communities. ROC USA® saw significant change and progress in 2022, and the PRICE Fund was a big part of this. Two years of hard work from community Members around the country led to the program’s inclusion in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that Congress passed in December. The community tours made an impactful difference. ROCs from Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, hosted congressional staffers and officials to garner support for the PRICE Fund. Carol and Stephen reflect on what those tours accomplished and what they envision for the future of the PRICE Fund.
Episode: Community Tours 101 with Carol Hodgkins and Stephen Hamlin
Welcome to the Ownership Matters podcast, where hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard of ROC USA highlight the stories of people at the heart of the resident ownership movement! In today’s episode, Paul and Mike welcome guests Carol Hodgkins and Stephen Hamlin.
0:12 – Introduction of today’s episode and two guests, Carol and Stephen
Both of today’s guests, Carol and Stephen, are co-op leaders. They will discuss the PRICE Fund, which is a $225 million program that passed in Congress in December 2022. Senators are in touch with co-op leaders, but it really is up to the co-op leaders to do the work in reaching out.
1:50 – Carol Hodgkins’s introduction
Carol joined a community 23 years ago in Freeport, Maine. In 2015, the owner wanted to sell so she contacted ROC USA and formed a co-op. She became president of the co-op and has served in some capacity for the last 6 years. She also attended the ROC leadership institute and is now the co-chair on the Outreach and Education Committee.
4:24 – When Carol got started with public policy
Her husband, Bill, was involved with public policy. When he passed last year, Carol stepped into his shoes and has been working in policy since.
5:53 – PRICE Fund
Carol first heard about the PRICE Fun at the Outreach and Education Committee meeting. It was part of the Build Back Better Bill and was the only bill that survived in this category. The co-op leaders were trying to get as much information out there as possible through statewide offices. This includes phone calls and lots of letter writing.
7:55 – Senator Collins’ staff
Carol shares how they met Senator Collins’ staff for lunch. They wanted to get a feel for the community. Carol said the biggest difference a ROC has is the sense of community. In a lot of single owner parks, the residents don’t know each other.
9:32 – How Carol followed the PRICE Fund
Carol shares how the news that the PRICE Fund passed was very welcomed by everyone!
11:13 – How to lead best in co-op leadership position
Carol doesn’t like to be the center of attention, but you have to let that go and realize that your voice needs to be heard. Others really want your information, honest opinions and to know what living in your resident owned community means to you. We still need to look for what other projects need to be accomplished and how to keep these communities loved and alive. She says if the community physical infrastructure or vision falls apart, the community falls apart.
13:53 – Stephen Hamlin’s introduction
Stephen lives in Burlington, Vermont and has lived there for 37 years. His ROC is North Avenue Cooperative and it became an ROC in 2015. He is a father of five, grandfather to 8, retired and works part-time but mostly for the community. His mantra is to help your neighbors.
14:55 – Stephen Hamlin shares his background
He started the co-op in 2015 and has been President of the board since 2016. They have seen many changes over the years. In 1939, North Avenue was built. It started out as a campground with 15 campsites. It has grown to 116 homes and could have 119. The other lots are too small for the last 3 homes. The water and sewage were done in the 60’s and electrical in the 70’s. His community sits on a lake and is also across from the beach.
18:10 – Public policy
Stephen was not involved in public policy before, but has attended local government meetings since he became President. He received an email asking for help to get this approved, so he wrote a letter to an online news organization in Vermont. This got the attention of Senator Lahey’s staff and they actually toured the community! He was very surprised and shocked that they didn’t have a clue what these communities are about.
21:13 – PRICE Fund
Stephen wasn’t aware when the PRICE Fund passed, that it would only be for a year. He wrote more letters to get it passed every year. Senator staff personally called and offered to visit the co-op, would check their schedule and potentially come over the summer.
25:18 – Closing thoughts from today’s conversations.
People like Stephen and Carol offer much inspiration through their stories – everyday people stepping up in their communities to make them better. Their efforts will affect future Members in their communities and co-ops across the country.
Links: Learn more about the PRICE Fund here.
Learn more about ROC USA through our website.
Thoughts? Questions? Stories? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.