Competitive PRICE grants could greatly improve ROCs’ infrastructure

ROC Leaders praise elected officials’ efforts, call for permanent annual funding

The White House on Thursday announced a historic moment in the manufactured housing community sector, releasing details of a $225 million funding opportunity whose passage through Congress in late 2022 was secured in part through the efforts of ROC leaders.

The Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) grants are designed to preserve and improve manufactured home communities largely through upgrading water, sewer, and other critical infrastructure systems. The PRICE Fund is the first federal programmatic investment in manufactured home communities.

“Too many manufactured home communities have been long ignored because of an unfair stigma. This groundbreaking funding will address the deferred maintenance of basic health and safety infrastructure most of us take for granted,” said ROC USA President Paul Bradley. “This is the first step toward a systematic approach to securing America’s last bastion of affordable housing. The risks for these homeowners is higher than ever.”

Homeowners in communities that have for years been owned and operated by small family businesses are now being purchased and consolidated into investment portfolios. Too often this means stark rent increases, decreased amenities, and in some cases eviction for the redevelopment.

Marjory Gilsrud, Board Chair of the ROC Association, which represents more than 320 ROCs across the country, said she rejoiced at the news but cautions there’s more to be done.

“This is wonderful news today, and we’re grateful to Marion Mollegen McFadden’s leadership at HUD to bring this funding to communities that so badly need it,” said Gilsrud, who lives at Madelia Mobile Village, a ROC about 100 miles from Minneapolis. “But we urge Washington to keep working. The PRICE funding needs to become a permanent program. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas, but rather to floor it because the alternative is more communities controlled by more investors for whom profit is first and foremost.”

This single appropriation can be transformational for some, but will not reduce the risk or fear of millions of homeowners who at any point could lose their largest asset – their home – because the owner of the land it sits on decides to sell.   

As McFadden pointed out during the announcement Thursday attended by dozens of ROC leaders, manufactured housing plays a critical role in the affordable housing landscape. It’s home to 22 million Americans, a third of whom earn less than $20,000 a year. It represents 7 percent of housing stock in America, and more than double that in rural areas. One third of manufactured home household heads are elderly.

“We need commitment from all levels of government, stakeholder and partners to continue to allocate resources and appropriations to this important housing stock,” Gilsrud said. “We’ve shown that ROCs stabilize rents and give homeowners peace of mind through cooperative land ownership.

“The time for urgency is now.”