In this episode of Ownership Matters, we’re joined by Tom Powers, the Board President at Clackamas River Community Cooperative in Clackamas, Oregon. If this Resident Owned Community sounds familiar, Rana Foroohar, our guest in episode four, talked about her visit to the community as part of research for two articles in the Financial Times. In today’s episode, Tom tells us all about their little slice of heaven on the Clackamas River, providing insight on the decision to purchase back in 2012, improvements the community has made since then, and the challenges the community faced over the last year.
Episode: Clackamas, a ROC on the River in Oregon
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 this episode, Paul and Mike welcome guest Tom Powers, Board President of Clackamas River Community Cooperative located in Clackamas, Oregon.
0:25 Guest, Tom Powers, introduced
Hosts Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard introduce Tom Powers, a lifelong resident of the greater Portland area. After graduating college, he spent 30 years in the construction industry. He moved to Clackamas River Community Cooperative in 2012 after the unexpected passing of his beloved wife Patricia. He began serving on the Board of Directors the following year
1:55 More about Tom and Clackamas River Community Cooperative
Tom moved to the community 5 months before it became an official coop. There are 76 homes in the community, which occupies 75 acres of land right along the Clackamas River. The location and privacy initially drew Tom to the community
4:02 Tom’s role in the community
Tom has served as President for six years. When the former president retired, Tom felt called to step up for the role. He explains the consistency of prices in the community, paying only $5 more per month now than he had been in 2012. The Clackamas River Community Coop is one of the most affordable communities in the area. They are looking to refinancing in the future which could keep the costs down even further.
7:18 Clackamas River Community’s transition to becoming a Coop
Tom speaks of the differing opinions when it came to becoming a community cooperative. He himself even almost voted no, but fortunately the decision turned out to be a good one. One of the biggest challenges the community members faced in making a decision was the price increase that would occur as a result. A few members were given the option of payment plans to not be put under too much financial stress.
14:20 Clackamas River Community Residents purchasing the property
Mr. Fingerhut, the original owner, didn’t have the obligation to sell the community to the homeowners but remarkably opened himself up to the possibility. Even though he had even higher outside offers, he chose to sell to the community instead.
16:50 Upgrades and projects in the community
Clackamas River Community Coop set aside funds when they initially became a coop for future community projects, including addressing the erosion problem along the creek. They were also able to gather multiple grants to eliminate the invasive species along the bank and build hiking trails, with more grant funds to be put to use in the future. From this experience, Tom believes it is always worth it to go after grants.
21:30 Residents from nearby communities
Tom has observed the quality of life in nearby cooperative communities to be less than that at Clackamas. Many of these higher communities are at a much higher price point but with even less benefits compared to Clackamas.
23:38 Misconceptions of manufacturing housing communities
Many people think manufactured homes are neglected and lacking community and pride. This stigma could be due to how these communities are portrayed on TV, but from this conversation alone we can be sure this doesn’t always have to be the case.
25:40 Advice for other cooperative leaders
Tom believes it essential for board members to realize they themselves are just another member of the community, not above or below any other residents. Communicate with your neighbors and residents and get involved. Participation and community involvement is recommended for all members, too.
27:50 Thank you to Tom for joining us and sharing his insight.
Learn more about Clackamas River Community Cooperative
Learn more about ROC USA through our website.
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