Park residents walk a well-worn path from skepticism to security

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This June, three more groups of manufactured-home residents in Washington state joined the growing national movement of resident-owned communities (ROCs).

Strength, the People Magazine of the Basin, an annual publication of The Columbia Basin Herald, recently published an article chronicling the conversion of three privately owned Moses Lake (WA) parks to cooperatives. The story is one that we here at ROC-NH know well.

When the cooperative development specialists from Northwest Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC), suggested that the residents consider purchasing their parks, reactions ranged from thinking NWCDC’s organizers were “nuts,” to wondering if they were being swindled, to skepticism about their own ability to pay the $1.5-million purchase price.

Those early reactions are typical. So was the follow-up. The Moses Lake residents followed the familiar path of listening, trusting, learning, researching, and more learning, leading to a realization that cooperatively owning the land under their homes meant security for them and their neighbors.

That exploration is just the beginning of the cooperative journey. Forming a cooperative brings neighbors together around a common goal. Then, owning the land gives them control of their community’s rent, rules, and priorities.

The shift from renter to owner also transforms how residents view their homes and futures. We have great stories about the skills, the leadership and the bursts of pride that emerge from ROCs.

Washington is now home to seven ROCs. Each will learn from the others and hopefully become ambassadors for the next group that faces the “shocking” thought of owning their own communities.

Tara Reardon is Director of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund‘s ROC-NH program.