In Oregon, Douglas County has a challenge.
The home ownership rate in the county is lower than that of the state and the country, per 2014 census data.
It also has a higher level of poverty — about 20 percent of people are living below the poverty level, compared to 17 percent in the state. The county also has a significant senior population. Nearly a quarter of Douglas County residents are 65 years or older, compared to 16 percent in the state.
According to The News-Review, manufactured housing solves that challenge and allows those who may not otherwise be able to achieve the American dream of home ownership the opportunity to do so. For low-income workers and retired seniors on a fixed income, a manufactured home promises home ownership at an affordable cost.
Also referenced is the sense of ownership that community residents feel when they purchase their home and pay a relatively modest amount for pad rent. With this, ownership becomes limited and landowners can have the final say in a number of areas.
When the state was hit with several manufactured home community closures due to the recession, laws were changed. Now when a community is up for sale, owners need to give residents the opportunity to purchase the land and run it as a cooperative (co-op).
A cooperative may provide residents the power they might have lacked before they “owned the dirt” beneath their homes. As a collective, they can vote on space rent increases, infrastructure improvements and general community rules.
While adoption has been limited, one Douglas County community has acted.
Residents of the Forrest Ranch Mobile Park in Idleyld Park purchased their community last year and converted it to a co-op. With assistance from CASA of Oregon, they have taken on over $2 million in health and safety infrastructure improvements.
“In order to save our homes and not have them be demolished, we had to do the best we could,” said resident and co-op board member Sharry Ison. The purchase of the land assured that the 110 spaces were safe from being sold to a corporation or business developer.
Non-profit NeighborWorks Umpqua took on a similar project this spring, purchasing Sterling Mobile Home Park.
“The nonprofit organization purchased the park [sic] to save it from potential closure,” said chief executive officer Merten Bangemann-Johnson.
“Our goal is to rebuild the park [sic]. It’s seen a lot of deferred maintenance over a decade now. We want to provide a place where folks can live that is safe and nice and clean and functions well. And, at the same time, remains affordable.”
The community has been renamed Newton Creek Manor and NeighborWorks plans to rebuild its water lines, sewer lines, roads and roadway lighting.
The nonprofit plans to fund infrastructure improvements through grant dollars while keeping rent prices at $365 a month.
This approach appears to not only be working, but also empowering community residents.
After NeighborWorks purchased the park in April, residents were invited to a pizza night dinner where improvement plans were discussed.
“They were the kindest to all of us,” said resident Phyllis Davis. “I imagine most of the people living in the park [sic] had not had much respect shown to them in years and years and years.”
“The best part for me was when they sent letters to residents addressing them as ladies and gentlemen. When I saw that, it gave me goosebumps,” said Davis.
As the Daily Business News are aware, manufactured housing provides in increasingly recognized, viable solution to the dream of homeownership. ##
(Editor’s note: for a prior story on CASA of Oregon, click the link here.)
(Image credits are as shown above.)
Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.