Monday, May 6, 2013

Press release: Homeowners purchase 200-site North Adams park; join Mass. trend of resident-owned manufactured home communities

For Immediate Release

May 2, 2013

Wheel Estates Tenants Association Inc. 

Homeowners purchase 200-site North Adams park; 
join Mass. trend of resident-owned manufactured home communities 

Andy Danforth, Housing Program Director, CDI (401) 439-9795
Michael Sloss, Managing Director, ROC USA® Capital: (202) 595-2690
Paul Bradley, President, ROC USA, LLC (603) 856-0709
North Adams, Mass. – Homeowners in this 200-home manufactured housing community took a big step toward securing their financial futures when they collectively bought their neighborhood as a resident corporation this week. 

The Wheel Estates Tenants Association Board of Directors said that while complex, the purchase process went more smoothly than they anticipated.

“It was hard work but it was all worth it,” board members wrote in a prepared statement. “The board is dedicated to the growth of our community with the support of our residents to put our best efforts into enhancing the community.”

The resident association purchased the community May 2 for $2.65 million with assistance from the Cooperative Development Institute. CDI is a certified technical assistance provider with ROC USA® Network, a national non-profit organization that works to help residents of for-sale mobile home parks form cooperatives and buy their communities. Technical assistance will continue to be provided by CDI to the association for the length of the mortgage — a minimum of 10 years.

In addition to a first mortgage that covered the purchase price, ROC USA Capital also provided a construction loan of up to $ 1.1 million to address infrastructure upgrades.

Wheel Estates is the sixth Massachusetts community supported by ROC USA Network. CDI and ROC USA helped more than 450 homeowners in two Carver communities purchase their parks in June and 66 homeowners in Plymouth in February. In these democratic associations, homeowners in the community each buy one low-cost membership interest. Each household has one vote on matters of the community. The members elect a Board of Directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote as a membership on larger matters like the annual budget, by-laws and community rules.

Andy Danforth, Director of CDI’s New England Resident Owned Communities (NEROC) Program, noted the extra challenge of for the first time working in a city with rent control ordinances. He joined the Wheel Estates board members in praising the efforts of city officials to accommodate a new model of community ownership.

“The city rent control board developed, in a matter of only three weeks, a new policy and rent adjustment application for resident-owned communities, and a new rent based upon resident member vote, contingent upon their purchase,” Danforth said.

Community owner Bob Morgan said selling to the residents was like any conventional sale.

“The transaction involved all the normal things, no surprises,” Morgan said. “Andy did a great job.”

Financing for the project came from ROC USA Capital. ROC USA Capital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ROC USA and a U.S. Department of Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution.

ROC USA Capital Managing Director Michael Sloss pointed to the community’s prime location, with sweeping views of the Berkshires, hundreds of undeveloped hillside acres, the abutting Savoy Mountain State Forest and easy access to shopping, schools and more.

“We’re excited to meet both the community acquisition and community improvement needs with our financing,” said Sloss, noting that a significant portion of ROC USA Capital’s loan is targeted to water, sewer and road improvements. “The preservation of the homes in Wheel Estates through affordable, fixed-rate community financing will have lasting impact in North Adams.”

Cooperative ownership of mobile home parks as a way of preserving affordable communities is a priority for several national non-profit organizations that in 2008 formed ROC USA to make resident-owned communities viable nationwide. ROC USA is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, NCB Capital Impact, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.

ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a national network of eight organizations such as CDI and a national financing source for resident-owned communities. “We solve the two basic barriers to resident ownership – access to expert technical assistance and financing to help homeowners become buyers when their community is for sale,” said Paul Bradley, ROC USA’s founding president.

ROC USA Network has helped 46 communities preserve nearly 3,200 homes in 13 states since its launch in May 2008.

The Cooperative Development Institute is a regional cooperative development center, founded in 1994, which has assisted dozens of new and existing cooperatives throughout New England and New York. It is involved in cooperative housing as well as agriculture, consumer, worker-owner, energy, and fishing cooperatives. For rural senior co-op development, CDI received support from the Cooperative Development Foundation.

This is the 10th resident corporation purchase for CDI in 29 months, with six in Massachusetts, three in Vermont and one in Maine.

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