‘This is a story that has no villains and so many heroes’

New Oregon ROC’s Board President excited for a future of resident ownership

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – The 110 homes in Family Redwood Park Cooperative are nestled between Redwood Highway and Redwood Avenue in Grants Pass, Ore., surrounded by beautiful parks, hiking trails an hour’s drive from the Oregon Caves and the clear waters of Crater Lake.

On Jan. 12, residents there purchased their community for $8.2 million, making it the 319th ROC in 21 states across the country and the 25th ROC in Oregon. Prior to the purchase, the community was called Redwood Mobile Estates because of the proximity to the neighboring streets. During the purchase process, residents wanted that to change.

“It’s a pragmatic name,” said Interim Board President Cindy Cole who has lived at Redwood since 2006. “We thought how can we change it a little bit but still keep the original name?”

Interim Board Secretary Berenice Maya who has lived in the community for seven years, added, “We were just brainstorming one day and talking about it and my husband raised his hand and said, ‘Why not call it Family Redwood Park?’ And that’s what we did.”

Berenice’s husband, Benjamin Maya, was also instrumental in the initial purchase of the community. Homeowners received a letter from the former owners saying they had accepted an offer to sell, and Benjamin organized the first pre-purchase planning meeting. (Oregon law gives the community the right to submit a competing offer and negotiate with the seller.)

“He went and asked neighbors what they thought of the notice and if they would be interested in finding resources to purchase the community,” Maya said. “So we got together with a couple of neighbors and we met.”

“During that meeting, I got to meet other owners and heard about CASA of Oregon and ROC USA,” Cole said. “This seemed like the best option for us. Grants Pass, Oregon, is special and unique in that our housing costs are astronomical. For us to be able to have this opportunity, it preserved a lot of homes for our community.”

At Family Redwood Park Cooperative, the monthly site fee is $415, considerably less than the $1,300 it cost per month to rent a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Grants Pass.

“Just looking at other manufactured home parks around Grants Pass, the lowest rent we can find is $600 (per month) and those are small places. Most are close to $800 (per month) and those are the same as ours, not upgraded or with anything special,” Maya said. “Grants Pass is a beautiful area, and a lot of people are retired here. It’s so peaceful and outdoorsy so a lot of people want to live here.”

CASA of Oregon, a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider, guided the homeowners through the purchase process and will continue to support them as they build the skills and leadership to manage their community.

In most manufactured home communities, homeowners own their own homes and pay lot rent to the community owner for the use of the land. In ROCs, the let rent goes to the resident cooperative and is managed to meet community needs, maintain affordability, and foster a sense of unity among the residents. Site fee increases at Family Redwood Park Cooperative will be phased in for three years. By the end of the phase, the monthly site fees will have increased by $119, said Rose Ojeda, Manufactured Housing and Cooperative Development Center Director for CASA of Oregon.

Network for Oregon Affordable Housing and CASA of Oregon provided a bridge loan for acquisition of the community. It will be refinanced with permanent financing once grant funds become available in 2025, Ojeda said.

“Family Redwood Park exemplifies resident self-determination – they control the land and will be able to permanently control their housing costs,” Ojeda said.

Family Redwood Park is diverse, with about 60 percent of residents reporting as Latinx. CASA also estimates that about 10 percent of the community are farm workers. Maya is fluent in both Spanish and English and because of her professional background working in the service industry with a diverse group of people she knew could help communicate with all community residents.

“At first I joined all the meetings because my husband was really involved,” Maya said. “I took over for him when he had surgery, and then it was helpful being bi-lingual. If I could help a little bit in taking the language barrier away, that was something I wanted to help with. This work felt very familiar to me – connecting people to resources, understanding the barrier and what people needed and working in groups with different personalities.”

Cole’s background as a family and community advocate with years of organizing also helped her with her new role as Board President.

“I was familiar with organizing and bringing folks together as a community so those experiences along the way helped me step up and say, ‘Hey, I can help if you want the help,’” she said.

As Redwood begins its first year as a ROC, Cole and Maya are excited about its future. The infrastructure of the community was well-maintained prior to purchase. They are prepared to continue maintaining the community but not have the deferred maintenance issues other communities face.

“I always explain to people that this is a story that has no villains and so many heroes,” Cole said. “The prior owners really set us up for maintaining a park the way it should be maintained. We are sitting fairly well. The capital improvements are manageable and doable.”

Community Members have started working together to organize a maintenance committee and are planning a suggestions box to coordinate all of the ideas they have.

“It’s nice to hear that people want to participate,” Maya said. “It’s our park and it’s going to benefit all of us.”

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The 110 homeowners of Family Redwood Park Cooperative purchased their Grants Pass, Ore., community in January for $8.2 million.