ROCs can have it all

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In May 2018, during its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., National Cooperative Bank hosted ROC USA® in honor of the social venture’s 10th anniversary. ROC USA took center stage at the event, with a panel discussion about the 220 co-ops in ROC USA’s network, remarks from President Paul Bradley, and a video commissioned by NCB that tells the story of ROC USA mainly through the lens of co-op leaders from four ROCs.

In just a few minutes, the video touches on most of the reasons ROC USA was created, including the stigma surrounding manufactured housing and the people who choose live in it.

“When we were purchasing our home, we were going to throw a housewarming party and I had a friend say, ‘Why are you going to throw a housewarming party when you’re just buying a trailer?’” said Laurie Westendorf, Board President at the 41-site Morning Star Community in Kalispell, Mont.

“But once they come into the community and they come into our home, they just fall in love with it.”

Charles E. Snyder, President and CEO of NCB, said the bank was proud to highlight successes of ROC USA and the creation of new affordable housing co-ops. Cooperation among cooperatives is one of the bedrock principles of co-ops around the world, and it is critical to promote other co-ops’ good work.

“For years, NCB has delivered financing to the resident purchases ROC USA and its affiliates facilitate because manufactured home communities thrive as co-ops,” Snyder said. Since 2015, NCB has provided more than $13 million in financing to six resident purchases, helping preserve more than 830 homes.

“But we wanted to do more — to tell the story of ROC USA and the impact that resident-owned communities create in empowering residents and creating a safe and stable form of affordable homeownership nationwide,” Snyder said.

NCB played a significant role, along with MetLife, in the financing for the resident purchase at Oak Hill, a 252-site community in Taunton, Mass. Oak Hill Board President Kathy Zorotheos spoke about the insecurity of owning a home on someone else’s land. She moved to Oak Hill in 2012 and retired two years later.

“A month after that, they told us that the park was going to be sold and I said, ‘Really, no!’” Zorotheos said. “So I went and Googled ‘How do you buy a mobile home park?’ and up comes ROC USA.”

Danielle Maiden, Cooperative Housing Specialist with NeighborWorks® Montana, explained how homeowners in manufactured home communities everywhere enjoy the pride of ownership of their homes.

“If you’re in a resident-owned cooperative, you have the pride of ownership of your whole community,” said Maiden, whose organization is the ROC USA Certified Technical Assistance Provider in Montana. “And this gives people the opportunity to really have it all. Affordability and homeownership.”