HYDE PARK, Vt. – Resident ownership has long been on the minds of the residents at the former Sterling View Mobile Home Park, but now that it is a reality, the new cooperative is anxious to get to work.
The homeowners in Sterling View Mobile Home Park, a 55-plus community of 113 homes that sits 30 miles north of Montpelier, formed Sterling View Cooperative Community and purchased the land and infrastructure for $3.25 million on Friday afternoon from Kenneth & Martha Harvey. They become the 14th resident-owned community (ROC) in the state of Vermont.
Financing for the resident-owned community was provided by ROC USA® Capital.
“We’re so pleased to become a Resident Owned Community,” said Board President Paul Nesky. “All of our efforts have paid off, and we’re ready to move forward with resident ownership – we’ve got an annual meeting to plan, committees to form and roads to assess.”
Nesky said the ongoing pandemic added an extra level of strain during the purchase process. Board meetings were held via video calls and paperwork became harder. However, several residents formed a Health and Wellness Committee to weather the pandemic and threw a morale-boosting socially distanced 4th of July parade for residents of the community last summer with donated pints of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.
The history of Sterling View is one for the books: the initial funding for the construction of the community was issued by the federal government in grants to the towns of Hyde Park, Wilcott, and Eden, earmarked specifically for the creation of affordable housing. Now, through resident ownership, affordable housing can be forever realized.
In many manufactured home communities, residents own their homes but not the land beneath them. This makes homeowners vulnerable to rent increases and eviction, especially when ownership of the land changes. By purchasing the property, homeowners are empowered to make major decisions as a unified community. On average, resident-owned communities raise site fees less than 25 percent of the industry average.
“I hope residents will feel better about writing that rent check each month, knowing that it is staying in the community and paying it forward,” said Nesky.
The residents of Sterling View worked with the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) to explore cooperative ownership. CVOEO introduced them to Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), who coached them through the purchase process and will continue to provide technical assistance to the co-op for at least the length of the 10-year mortgage.
Annik Paul, CDI’s NEROC Program Vermont State Manager, praised the sellers’ desire to sell their community to the residents of Sterling View. She said the leaders of the new co-op have spent the purchase process focused on learning more about their neighborhood and skills to manage the multi-million-dollar business moving forward.
“They’ve worked hard on this as the closing date approached,” Paul said. “I’m confident of their success and look forward to seeing what the residents of this community accomplish together in the future.”
“Every community purchase holds a unique story and set of circumstances and each also follows a familiar pattern – homeowners joining together to gain control of the land under their neighborhood because it’s in their best interest to do so,” said Paul Bradley, president of ROC USA, LLC. “It’s as fundamental and simple as that when you get right down to it.”
In a resident-owned community, homeowners each buy one low-cost share and become Members of the co-op, with one vote per household on matters of the community. They elect a Board of Directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote on larger matters like the annual budget, bylaws and community rules.