Network Building Grants

Our 2020 priorities are focused on each element of this vision statement.

Our current Strategic Plan – titled “Sustainably Scaling Resident Ownership: Leadership and Impact” – is our blueprint in 2020 and beyond. You will note however that demand is greater than we projected 18 months ago, and we have had to raise more capital to meet it.

We know the need is growing and we’re delighted that interest is growing!

ROCs are preserving more affordable units than most other housing organizations, including better funded and larger networks.

Your charitable donation will help this social venture network and these inspiring bootstrap communities drive impact and expand in 2020. Here are a few areas of need:

Community Revitalization Days and ROC Grants

The ROC Association Directors – the three ROC USA Directors who are elected by the currently 255 co-op Boards – have focused on supporting home and community improvement and rebranding efforts in the lowest-income ROCs.

The Community Revitalization Day plan builds on some small grants funded by ROC USA and selected by ROC Association Directors through competitive application rounds. 

The Community Revitalization Day plan is to help co-ops organize Members and outside volunteer groups to tackle home and community improvements in a dramatic, community-building manner. Co-ops have people power and are secure communities. Such community-based efforts will make the power and potential clear to everyone.

This priority includes a broader set of strategies aimed at bringing home and community improvement providers and resources into secure ROCs. We have glimpses of it in places but it takes work and resources to bring it to all 17 current states with co-ops.

Donors can already help fund community improvements through our website and we hope you will. One-hundred percent of money we raise on our website goes to the ROCs we serve to fund improvements that each community prioritizes.

If you’re interested in a larger donation, please email Paul Bradley at pbradley@rocusa.org to make arrangements and avoid Paypal taking a percentage.  Thank you!

Community Leadership Development

We believe local ownership is best. That’s why for years, we sent a few dozen ROC leaders to a national leadership academy every fall. But as we became more and more successful bringing ROCs online, we found just weren’t able to serve enough community leaders.

So in 2018, we designed the ROC Leadership Institute from the ground up. Focused exclusively on co-op leaders in the resident-owned communities with which we work, ROC Leadership Institute is an intense three-day series of workshops and peer exchange held at Southern New Hampshire University each spring. Community leaders attend free of charge, with every expense from travel and lodging to food and incidentals covered by ROC USA. All we ask of community leaders is their time and dedication. 

Trainers come from ROC USA, Network Affiliate staff, outside experts and increasingly from within the ranks of co-op leaders themselves. We welcomed more than 100 leaders last year from 50-plus ROCs and debuted a Spanish-language track for leaders who prefer to learn in their native tongue.

Sponsorship opportunities at several levels are plentiful for ROC Leadership Institute and constitute an investment in the success of resident-owned communities everywhere.

New energy-efficient homes in secure ROCs

ROCs, Network affiliates and partner organizations – like housing finance authorities – have replaced older existing homes and filled vacant sites with new EnergyStar® HUD-code homes. These include innovative projects to house formerly homeless Veterans and formerly homeless families.

We are excited about our new national partnership with Family Promise and Clayton Homes, the country’s largest HUD-code housing builder. We are also long-time partners with Next Step Homes, another nonprofit social venture (like ROC USA) that is focused on delivering high-quality, energy-efficient homes in co-ops and elsewhere.

If you consider the cost of producing a permanently affordable homeownership unit in a co-op – including the cost of the land, improvements and a new energy-efficient home – you are looking at affordable units that are less than 50% the cost of a Low Income Housing Tax Credit unit. And, new homes in co-ops don’t come with 15-year compliance periods that will expire and be lost eventually.

And, in most regions of the country, manufactured homes outnumber subsidized affordable units by as much as 6:1!

Network Investments

ROC USA® Network is expanding from 9 to 12 regional nonprofit affiliates through 2020 expansions in three large manufactured housing states – California, Texas and North Carolina.

The existing Network is focused on market penetration and service delivery – and some are also expanding their footprints into new states like Iowa. 

As a Network, we are very focused on building shared systems in order to create economies of scale where we can. Everyone is invested in scaling what we can while supporting our fundamentally grassroots work that supports success in each co-op community.

While ROC USA and ROCs themselves have proven themselves sustainable, our challenge remains helping our front-line affiliates achieve sustainable lines of business as providers of pre- and post-purchase training and other services. Few of these nonprofit partners have the capital to invest in technology and staffing to expand without our initial investment in them.

Home financing

In 2001, Paul Bradley launched the award-winning home-only finance program that operates in New Hampshire’s co-ops today and he oversaw the substantial work to secure an unprecedented approval by Fannie Mae to buy home-only mortgage loans on homes in New Hampshire’s co-ops.

It’s the only state and the only communities in the country where homes are financed with conventional residential mortgage loans. That’s our blueprint for other states, and a vital part of our theory of change. Buyers of manufactured homes should have access to the same residential mortgage market as owners of site-built homes. It’s terrible that our lowest-income homeowners pay interest rates that are twice (and more) that of other homebuyers.

We are working several strategies to bring other lenders to the home-in-co-op market and innovate in the home-only mortgage market.

Online learning

Bradley likes to say that ROC USA is three feet wide and three miles deep to reinforce that we are focused on a single stock of housing that’s vital to a large number of very low-, low- and moderate-income homeowners. Our teams and co-op leaders themselves have developed unparalleled expertise in this one sector and we need to make it available to our 17,000 Member-Owners on a 24/7 basis.

We’ve tried twice, and failed twice on this goal. (We don’t succeed in everything we do and we’re not afraid to tell you, but we do need to succeed here!) We have a promising opportunity with a leader in online education but it’s a new area that is not yet funded through earnings.

Research 

The research agenda runs deep. We are excited to be working with MIT and Cornell on two research projects and we have affiliates working with other academics. Our challenge is that we have little internal support for managing research activities beyond what we’re already doing.

Policy & Advocacy

Donors and philanthropists by now are wondering about policy. We do not have a policy director or team. We have been very market-focused but indeed there are policy matters that would aid the work, and it’s becoming more pressing with the increased calls from legislators.

Summary

These inspiring, bootstrap communities have proven themselves time and again. Together, we’re building a national movement on the simple idea that homeownership should include ownership of the land under people’s homes.

“He who owns the land controls the future” is undeniable in the United States of America.

Please join us on this sector-focused journey to economic security and community engagement – we’re going hand-in-hand with homeowners from coast to coast!

Please email Paul Bradley at pbradley@rocusa.org to explore opportunities to help. We need your support. Thank you.