Scholar: Cheap government financing should benefit homeowners not investment firms

An award-winning author, activist, and scholar called out the good work of ROC USA this month during the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Policy, Development and Research Quarterly Update on Institutional Investors in Housing.

Esther Sullivan, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Denver and author of the book, “Manufactured Insecurity: Mobile Home Parks and Americans’ Tenuous Right to Place,” described a two-decade influx of real estate investment and private equity firms purchasing manufactured home communities as lucrative investment vehicles.

“We currently don’t have systematic data documenting changes within communities that occur alongside institutional investment,” Sullivan said. “But what we do have is a chorus of manufactured home community residents themselves who are calling local media, calling nonprofit groups, calling me, and telling the same story across the U.S. – escalating rents, fees upon fees and predatory landlord practices that result in housing insecurity and ultimately the eviction of residents who are unable to pay their lot rents even when they own their home. Some of these residents own their home outright.” (Video time 39:15 to 44:20)

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Sullivan went on to recognize ROC USA as a solution for maintaining affordable neighborhoods across the country.

“If we want to stabilize this affordable housing stock, GSE (Government Sponsored Enterprise) loans to acquire manufactured home communities should primarily be available to residents themselves across the U.S., who are collaboratively looking to purchase the land under their homes so they can own their manufactured home communities and run them themselves,” said Sullivan. “Converting manufactured home communities to resident ownership is working in hundreds of parks across the U.S., backed by groups like ROC USA, but financing is the key barrier for these groups. So Duty to Serve credits should go to purchases that are most aligned with preserving manufactured housing communities and promoting affordability.” (Video time 50:39 to 52:30)

PD&R hosts quarterly updates to present the latest data and research on U.S. housing market conditions and to do a deep dive into pressing community housing and development issues facing our nation.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge spoke about barriers many people in our country face in owning their own homes, and Sullivan sat with four other researchers as they all discussed solutions to combat institutional investors in housing.

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Resident Ownership and manufactured housing in general are attracting coverage across the country. Check out more coverage nationwide.
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