Resident ownership has been in the news
a bit late this month – raising awareness of a solution we know works to combat affordable housing shortages across the country.
Today, ROC USA® Board Member and NeighborWorks® Montana Assistant Director Kaia Peterson wrote a column in The (Missoula, Mont.) Missoulian in response to news of the pending closure of a manufactured home community.
In it, Peterson writes:
“There are two resident-owned communities in Missoula, owned and run by the residents who live there. The previous owners received a market price at sale, the residents gained long-term control and affordability, and our community gained engaged and skilled resident leaders. As a community development financial institution, this is a win-win-win that the organization I work for, NeighborWorks Montana, seeks to achieve.”
Peterson’s column is in response to coverage of Skyview Trailer Park, whose residents received six-month eviction notices just before Halloween. It’s a gut-wrenching story all too familiar to those working in this sector. Reporter David Erickson interviewed resident Mechailiah Hickman, who has lived in her home for about two years – a home she can’t move because of its age.
“This is literally the only place in Missoula where we can live,” said Mechailiah Hickman, who shares a trailer with her husband, 1-year-old child and oftentimes her sister. “We can’t go anywhere else.”
USA Today ran a truly moving column on Thanksgiving by Suzanne Anarde of Rural LISC about growing up in manufactured homes. Headlined “I celebrated holidays in a trailer. Don’t put it down, it was home,” Anarde’s piece talks about living in two homes as a youngster, free of the stigma that is so often associated with factory-built housing.
“A home should never be synonymous with a slur,” she writes. “I grew up in manufactured housing, first in a singlewide trailer next to my family’s trading post on a Navajo reservation, and later in a brand new doublewide in a New Mexico trailer park. I never knew there was anything wrong with that. It was where my mom was, where I did my homework, where we shared Thanksgiving dinner and put up our Christmas tree. We lived comfortably, with dignity, and it had nothing to do with the public’s attitude toward the physical structure of our house.”
Anarde lays out some of the challenges facing owners of manufactured homes today, from pricy and sometimes difficult-to-secure financing and restrictive zoning laws to displacement risk and wealth erosion.
Finally, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune last week led a story about a regional affordable housing crisis with the recent successful purchase of Zumbro Ridge, an 84-home ROC in Rochester, Minn. Reporter Matt McKinney interviewed two ROC leaders from Zumbro Ridge: Treasurer Krista Paulsen and Secretary Hilari Erickson. They spoke about the residents’ early doubts and the change in community spirit brought about by the purchase, which they made with the help of ROC USA Network affiliate Northcountry Cooperative Foundation.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be buying this someday,” Paulsen said, adding that there’s a future for ROCs in and around Rochester as the nearby world-renowned Mayo Clinic grows. That growth will provide more and more jobs of all kinds and necessitate affordable places to live for many new employees.
Erickson told the newspaper, “Everyone’s taking more pride in their homes. It’s a huge turnaround when you realize you’re a part owner.”