La Luna Community Cooperative takes control of its future as three levels of government commit $2.79M to secure long-term affordability in Lafayette
LAFAYETTE, Colo. – With a hefty financial commitment from three levels of Colorado governments and support from their local certified technical assistance provider, the 34 homeowners at La Luna Community Cooperative are now proud owners of the land beneath neighborhood.
“Being a part of La Luna means we as residents are in control of our future,” said Board President LaVern Schafer. “I have lived at this address for the last 38 years, basically my whole adult life. We raised two wonderful children and have two of our grandchildren, from six weeks old to school age. From my grandson’s mouth, ‘Nana and Papa’s house is the best.’”
On Jan. 31, homeowners of La Luna, located in Lafayette, Colo., a former coal mining town and now revitalized city near Boulder, purchased their neighborhood for $4.5 million with help and guidance from Thistle ROC, the Denver-based CTAP for ROC USA in Colorado.
This is the first community financed by ROC USA® Capital to receive commitments from three different levels of government. This unprecedented government financing totals $2.79 million, more than half the total purchase price, and includes:
- The City of Lafayette contributing $495,000;
- Boulder County contributing $1.055 million; and,
- The state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) contributing $1.24 million.
The remaining $2.23 million in financing (plus an additional $520,000 in reserves, due diligence and closing costs) for La Luna was provided by ROC USA Capital.
“The homeowners at La Luna have done an incredible job of navigating the process of resident ownership with the Thistle-ROC team and with tremendous support from the city, county and state, and their hard work has secured long-term security and affordable housing for future generations,” ROC USA President Paul Bradley said. “I met LaVern in Denver last fall and was struck by how grounded and genuine he is. He’s just the sort of person who has inspired so many to get behind resident owners.”
“LaVern’s just the sort of person who has inspired so many to get behind resident owners.”
-Paul Bradley, ROC USA President
Community leaders at La Luna worked and collaborated with Thistle-ROC staff, who guided them throughout the acquisition process and will continue to offer ongoing technical assistance to the cooperative for at least the duration of the 10-year purchase loan. Tim Townsend, Thistle ROC program director, credited the commitment and hard work of volunteer Board Members and residents to reach the finish line, said.
“Their dedication has yielded positive results, and now they can celebrate accomplishing their objective of preserving their community as an affordable home for La Luna and Lafayette families,” Townsend said. “From the first meeting, where the rent increase was looking incredibly daunting based on worst case scenarios to current day seeing the perseverance and hard work of the Board, this community is looking at a much smaller amount that can still maintain affordability for these residents. It truly is a reason to celebrate the joining of partnerships between the City of Lafayette, Boulder County, and these incredible residents to ensure La Luna remains a long-lasting home for residents and families who need an affordable housing option.”
La Luna is the third community to utilize an innovative financing vehicle launched by ROC USA Capital and Thistle in 2022. It brought together seven other organizations to create a below-market-rate pool of community acquisition capital for Colorado. Financing includes funds not only to purchase the community, but also to make necessary infrastructure repairs or upgrades.
La Luna’s purchase reflects a growing trend in governments stepping in to support manufactured housing communities. In July 2023, the city of Golden, Colo., made a financial commitment to Golden Hills Cooperative Community for homeowners to purchase their community and in November 2023, the city of San Antonio and the San Antonio Housing Trust helped finance Mission Trail Community Association. In 2022, The Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) put $1.9 million in Affordable Housing Trust funds toward Royal Crest Residents Association’s purchase in Wareham.
Brittany Roy, ROC Operations Manager, also praised the sellers’ desire to sell their community to the residents of La Luna, noting that “selling to the residents is a way to create a legacy that supports perpetual affordability, agency and collective power within the community.”
This purchase was also made possible by Colorado’s opportunity to purchase laws. Passed in 2020, these laws give homeowners in manufactured housing communities the chance to buy the land their community sits on. The process to purchase the land and become a ROC takes a commitment from the community, however, the payoff is huge.
“Becoming a ROC, well, it means every resident will be able to stay in the homes they have lived in,” said Denise Gilmour, Board Operations, at La Luna. “Most of us have lived here for 20 plus years and had always planned on staying till we are no longer self-sufficient (health wise).”
Schafer is also excited about the generational security resident ownership offers.
“With Thistle and the La Luna community, we are able to stay in our home and keep the home that has been ours for many years,” Schafer said. “We are looking for many more years to call this home.”