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ROC USA President's BLOG
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A simple question yields terrific answer

Posted By Paul Bradley, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last week I heard from an old colleague on LinkedIn.  She asked how I and ROC USA® were doing. 

I was happy to report that I am personally well – it’s nice when someone cares enough to ask – and that ROC USA is making good progress as we approach our 9th birthday in May.  She was involved with us 10 years ago but hasn’t followed us much since. 

I let her know that ROC USA® Network and ROC USA® Capital set records in 2016.  That feels noteworthy. 

ROC USA Network supported 17 new Resident Owned Communities and preserved 1,380 homes in seven states (Washington, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine) in 2016.  That’s more communities and homes preserved in any single year in the 32-year history of limited equity MHC co-ops!  Image showing ROCs across the country

ROC USA Network now serves more than 12,150 homeowners and 196 ROCs in 14 states from coast to coast. 

ROC USA Capital also set a record with $34M in total lending to 10 ROCs.  ROCs are not viable without access to financing so raising capital and lending is vital to our mission.    

I shared the study showing that ROCs after just five years of ownership have rents between market rate and as much as 17% below market. They’re also being prudently managed with respect to reserves and finances.  The average annual rent increase in ROCs is just under 1%, or just under $4 per year on average.  There’s no one comparable statistic for commercial MHCs, but in my experience, I commonly see annual increases of $10 - $20.

Growth and impact are good, of course.  We set out to make resident ownership viable and successful across the country and we’re making good progress.  But it isn’t just about growth, everyone is also interested in work and innovation to make resident ownership successful and to bring economic benefit to ROC members.   

There are numerous ROCs undertaking major improvement projects this year.  Two ROCs in New York supported by PathStone, the CTAP in Western New York, will invest over $4M in water, sewer, roads and electric improvements.  Both The Woodlands Community and Kayadeross Acres were once considered “the MHCs to move into” in their regions and both had fallen into disrepair before their big projects.

I am also seeing the first community solar project under way at a ROC.  Imagine using excess land to generate income and cost savings.  When it goes live, we’ll write about it. 

There’s innovation with new energy-efficient homes going into ROCs, and new sources of home-only financing becoming available in ROCs.  Better rates and lower utility costs really matter to household budgets. 

There is increasing access to home rehab resources – like USDA’s 504 program.  Last week, CASA of Oregon helped two ROC members get access to the grant/loan program, a first for any ROC member in Oregon.  Four CTAP organizations are also working to get USDA 502 loans for new energy efficient homes in Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Oregon ROCs.  And, ROC-NH is leveraging the Federal Home Loan Bank system for home rehab funding in a few ROCs, too.   

We have several ROCs participating in our Digital Bridge project – where ROC USA Network and CTAPs are helping ROC leaders get connected to the internet and leveraging technology to improve operations and peer learning.  We are really excited about getting all ROCs online and connected to resources. 

I had all of that inside of me, just waiting for someone to ask the question.  Writing all of that to her gave me great pride in the community leaders, CTAPs and national staff that are involved in growing as a Network and adding Member Benefits along the way.  We won’t remake the world, but we can remake hundreds of neighborhoods.  Better Together. 

Is there anything you’d like to know?    

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I saw transformation yesterday ...

Posted By Paul Bradley, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Homebuyers in the United States enjoy such low interest rates because most mortgages are not held by your local bank but sold to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac where they are pooled (or, securitized).  Investors the world over can invest in these securities and, historically, enjoy safe returns.  Therefore, their returns are modest.  It’s an efficient market.     

Buyers of mobile and manufactured homes in communities are not a part of that system.  For one, it was developed for residential mortgages and homes in communities are generally not real estate.  In most states, they’re chattel or personal property.  And, two, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do finance units on leased land, they don’t do that for mobile or manufactured homes in communities. 

At the heart of the matter is that home-only loans in communities have not performed well.  Had those loans been safe for conventional lender types, maybe it would be different already.  ROC USA President Paul Bradley predicts that within two years, owners of manufactured homes in ROCs will have access to home-only loans with rates comparable to the traditional residential real estate market.

Instead, owners of homes in communities are offered chattel loans.  That’s why you visit the consumer finance department at the bank or credit union if you’re lucky enough to find one that provides home-only loans in your market.  You don’t visit the mortgage department.

What everyone in communities knows is that you pay higher interest rates and generally have shorter terms.  Both are absolutely true and neither is easily fixed. 

We have been working on changing that since 2001.  (I know, pick up the pace, Bradley!)  Honestly, we might have been here in 2010 were it not for the deep recession beginning in 2008. 

Excuses aside, there’s real progress to report. 

First, we are excited to welcome National Cooperative Bank to chattel lending in Resident Owned Communities (ROCs) beginning later this month in Massachusetts.  Their plan is to ultimately provide loans and serve ROCs in all ROC USA states. 

Their product is good.  And, they’re doing it right, with all of the bells and whistles that Fannie Mae will need to buy loans originated by NCB.  It is all of that formality that will ultimately produce lower interest rates on home-only loans in ROCs.  Highly organized and efficient markets like housing financing require performance data and more formality that many of you are used to, I know.  You’ll be seeing community approvals and Recognition Agreements as a part of this process.  It makes sense.  If you want in, you have to play the rules.  That’s business. 

But, it’s going to finally answer that age-old question, “Can we get loans that are closer to regular residential mortgage rates?” 

The answer, I predict, will soon be “yes.” 

I was at Fannie Mae yesterday with a NCB representative.  We’re on a good path to making it happen.  Not tomorrow but within two years.  That sounds near-term to me given my almost 15 years of work on this. 

To be sure, the rock solid performance of ROCs over the last 32 years merits this kind of engagement and investment by conventional residential mortgage lenders.  We know from the NH Community Loan Fund’s Welcome Home loan program that home-only loan performance in ROCs is outstanding. 

This opportunity with NCB and Fannie Mae is in recognition of that solid performance.  More news to follow.  I was excited and wanted to tell you about seeing the future yesterday.  It’s a future I’ve planned for a long time.    

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Consistent Impact Documented in 2015: Stage set for sustained growth and market expansion

Posted By Paul Bradley, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ROC USA®, the nonprofit social venture with a mission of scaling resident-owned communities (ROCs), is demonstrating strong and consistent impact.

In 2016, ROC USA Network’s eight affiliated Technical Assistance Providers helped 16 low- and moderate-income resident groups acquire their manufactured (mobile) home communities and preserve more than 1,300 homes.  ROC USA Network now represents 195 ROCs and more than 12,000 homeowners in 14 states. 

Increasing the number of ROCs is important to delivering the security of ownership to more communities but it is consistent impact across all communities that’s most important. 

Homeowners join together and buy their community for a host of reasons but the universal goal is affordable site rents.  So every year, we ask:  How do monthly lot rents in ROCs compare to other similar communities in the local market area over time? 

To answer that question, ROC USA contracts with a third-party appraiser that specializes in the sector for an objective assessment of each market.  The studies are done every five years for every ROC financed by ROC USA Capital.

ROC USA Capital financed 13 new ROCs in 37 months between December 2008 and 2011.  The appraiser has analyzed market rents for all 13 ROCs over the last three years. 

I don’t have permission to disclose any community’s result by name though we do share their report with them for their own use.  The results for the group are consistent with my last report when the sample size was just seven:

  • 11 of 13 ROCs have lot rents below market and 2 of 13 have lot rents equal to market after 5 years of ownership;
  •  ROC rents range to as much as $86 per month (17%) below market; and,
  • The average annual increase in ROC site fees is $3.38 per year, or just under 1.0% per year.

On this last bullet point, we ask, “How does 1% per year compare to commercial communities?” 

Unfortunately, there is no single industry data point on increases.  And, communities vary greatly by type.  We have the appraiser look closely at type when comparing rents in the study cohorts but a segmented regional or national study that would provide apples-to-apples comparison is not available. 

We do have an appraisal from one of the 13 ROCs that reported rent increases before it became a ROC:

 

Rental Increase History Before Becoming a ROC

 

2006

2007

2008

2009

Current

Rent

$360

$370

$380

$390

$400

Increase ($)

$5

$10

$10

$10

$10

Increase (%)

1.4%

2.7%

2.6%

2.6%

2.5%

 

 

It actually matches anecdotally what I have heard countless times from homeowners, “it increases $10 to $20 every year.”  In that subject property, $10 represented 2.5% annual increases, more or less.   

I think this is the next place we need to go in terms of research – we need to put these ROC results against the market and see how it stands up.  I’m pretty confident it will. 

Further results show that none is charging more than market rent after five years; that indicates generally good planning and management the resident group and good support from their ROC USA Network Certified Technical Assistance Provider.   

The 13 ROCs also invested a total of $4.5 million in community improvements during their first five years of ownership, with a median investment of $153,000 and a range of $0 to $1.5 million.  (The $0 means they’ve not drawn from reserves for improvements though they do have reserves.  The ROC has likely made improvements from operating cash instead.)  

Last, there’s one critical element that could easily go unrecognized:  Each of these 13 ROCs has good financial discipline.    

Each of the 13 ROCs in the study is setting aside reserves consistent with their Capital Improvement Plan, undergoing annual audits or reviews, and adhering to debt service coverage ratios (aka annual surpluses that stay in the community). 

That sounds like banker speak but it’s really important.  It’s not enough to say “rents are at or below market” if below the surface they are operating poorly. 

We take a disciplined approach for the good of the entire community and movement.  Because each ROC will need to be refinanced, they will need to present a strong case for the best financing terms, just like any other business borrower.  Good financial discipline is a must and frankly ROC members get it. 

Bottom-line:  These ROCs are financially disciplined and performing well at and below market rents all while improving their neighborhoods.  Year three results were consistent with earlier results, giving me further confidence we are on the right track to meet everyone’s goal of economically secure and affordable communities over the long-run.

ROC on!

Tags:  #cooperatives  cooperatives  manufactured home communities  manufactured housing  mobile home parks  mobile homes  myROCUSA.org  paul bradley  rent  rent study  ROC Association  ROC USA  roc usa network  rocusa  trailer parks 

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Extraordinary Final Week of 2016!

Posted By Paul Bradley, Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On Dec. 26th and 27th, a two-part story on Manufactured (Mobile) Home Communities ran on National Public Radio.  The first night showcased some of the financial and legal issues for homeowners in commercially-owned communities.  Of course, it highlighted a really bad case, and those exist.  But, I do feel badly for the many good community owners whose positive stories go untold.  That’s unfair. 

The second part of the story showcased the Park Plaza Co-op in Fridley, Minnesota.  The piece was so touching that one of my daughter’s friends openly cried while listening to it! 

The story featured Natividad Seefeld who Community Leadership Institute participants know as a fellow participant for many years now.  She is the founding president of Park Plaza and the ROC Association.  She’s twice been elected by ROCs in the Midwest to serve on ROC USA’s Board of Directors.

In the radio piece, Natividad spoke of her urgency and dedication as having a root in her personal background – her family was homeless for parts of her childhood and, this is big, she has carries the burden of a brain cancer diagnosis. 

So, she wants to see things done; she wants to build community.  And, she’s doing a whole lot of both! 

Please listen to it, it’s really touching.  After you do, you’ll understand why we’ll be holding a special fundraising campaign to raise money for a new playground at Park Plaza.  More on that to follow!    

And, then, on Dec. 29th, the Pammel Creek Estates, Inc. in La Crosse, Wisconsin became 195th ROC in ROC Association!  Pammel Creek is the 16th new ROC in 2016, tying the number assisted in 2015. 

They also helped us over a hump so we start 2017 saying, “We’re 12,000 homes strong and growing!” 

Both Park Plaza and Pammel Creek are supported by the staff of the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF), a TA Provider in ROC USA Network that’s based in Minneapolis.  NCF is a founding affiliate of ROC USA Network and a strong contributor to Network’s commitment to excellence and innovation.  Thank you NCF staff and all TA Providers for all that you do to make resident ownership successful from coast to coast! 

Both Park Plaza and Pammel Creek are also borrowers of ROC USA Capital.  It was largely financing from ROC USA Capital that funded the $1 million of water and road improvements at Park Plaza that was referenced in the radio report. 

It’s projects like that – and knowing so many ROCs have similar needs – that excites me about the Trump administration’s commitment to infrastructure.  As local small businesses with capital improvement needs, your communities are ideal public-private partnerships.  The Community Infrastructure Guides on myROCUSA.org (see ROC Guides in blue bar) offer some public programs that may have more money for community projects very soon! 

While on the subject of presidential politics, I want to share a concern that the attack-based campaign we just watched could impact community relations if you and we are not careful. 

Please take personal responsibility for your behavior and be the kind of neighbor you want others to be.  Call it the Golden Rule for community relations!  It’s never been more important than right now, I think. 

When it comes to business, please listen to your fellow members and work toward solutions that build community.  Don’t tear down community in the process of making decisions; what good does that do, really? 

Rather, focus on the issue and be patient.  It’s healthy to challenge an idea: Ask questions to learn things and advance the solution making process.  That’s good.  But, never attack a person.  That’s unacceptable and only creates divisions that make group decision-making much harder.

The theme of the Community Leadership Institute is “Positive Leadership”.  I have insisted on that theme because I firmly believe that people follow solution seekers who listen to member input in pursuit of positive solutions.  Healthy people and organizations want to solve problems and move on.  They don’t like getting mired in silliness or ugliness.    

Our challenge as leaders is developing a problem-solving culture that doesn’t tear people down but rather includes people in the process of building forward progress as a group.  Let’s continue to make forward progress by each being a contributor.  Your community needs you!    

Speaking of the Community Leadership Institute, we were happy to have 48 ROC leaders from 24 ROCs participate in last October’s event in Columbus.  My favorite comment this year came from Donna in Barrington, NH who said, “After this, my faith in human-kind is reborn!”

Indeed, I am truly fortunate to work with such gifted and dedicated community leaders as Donna and so many other ROC leaders.  I thank you and our affiliate TA providers, staff and Board for an outstanding year with steady forward progress on our Strategic Plan goals. 

We’re 12,000 strong and growing!      

On a personal note, blog readers know that one of those 12,000 is now especially important to me: In two blogs in October you read about my mother settling into her new home in Resident Owned Community (ROC) in Concord, NH.  Well, my wife and two daughters had dinner on Christmas Eve at her new house.  Dinner was very good but the location was perfect!  It could not have been better! 

Thank you for a record-tying 2016.  Thank you for all that you do to make resident ownership successful.  Thank you for contributing to forward progress in 2017!  Paul     

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The time of my life ...

Posted By Paul Bradley, Thursday, December 1, 2016

This past year has been a real gift. I stepped back in time with all of the current knowledge and experience I now possess having run ROC USA® for 8½ years.

I was able to return to what captured me in the late ’80s when I first began working with homeowners in “mobile home parks.” In 2016, I was able to work firsthand again with a new group of homeowners as they worked through the purchase of their community – the due diligence, planning and decision-making of purchasing their community.

What a gift! Thank you Kayadeross Acres, Inc.

I truly appreciate you having me along for the ride! And, congratulations on your purchase last month!

Let me tell you a little about these folks.

“Thirty years ago, this was the park to move into in Ballston Spa,” a 30-year resident told me one night after a Membership meeting. Kayadeross Acres leaders are hitting the ground running, making plans to replace the run-down infrastructure lying beneath the community’s roads.

Admittedly, that was hard to see from my trips to the 133-home community that sits just outside of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. To say the community has seen better days is an understatement. I understand why homeowners were initially skeptical. They had never had people arrive in their community with the sole intent of helping them improve their economic standing.

And, these folks have withstood some tough conditions. Just this summer, the homeowners went without water for several days several times as the holding tanks ran dry. The problem wasn’t usage. No, the real problem is that roughly half of the water is being lost to leaks in the distribution lines. This was serious.

But, let me tell you what this incredible Board and Membership have planned. The plan is based upon their own initiative and state-of-the-art help from their attorney, George Slingerland, PathStone (a ROC USA Network Technical Assistance affiliate in New York), ROC USA and New York Homes and Community Renewal.

Check it out:

On the very day they purchased the community, Kayadeross Acres, Inc. (pronounced kay-de-ross) had already:

1.     Published its website at www.kayaderossacres.coop;

2.     Changed the name of the community from Creek & Pines to Kayadeross Acres;

3.     Posted new temporary signs for the community, complete with their phone number and website address;

4.     Signed Agreements with two home lenders – Cooperative Federal and Mountainside Financial for lower-cost home financing in the community; Kayadeross Acres ordered temporary banners to cover up the ROC’s former name on the entrance signage.

5.     Signed a Brokerage Agreement to list and sell seven vacant park-owned homes that they acquired;

6.     Initiated engineering design for a $2.9 million improvement project (starting with water distribution lines) so that they can get started by mid-2017;

7.     Contracted to have three dilapidated homes removed from the community; and,

8.     Had a tree expert marking trees for removal.

That’s all in addition to setting up the office and notifying everyone of the change of ownership and payment processes.

Thank you Andrea Miller from PathStone for having me along. And, thank you Angela Romeo from ROC-NH who played a big role in Kayadeross Acres’ purchase, too, because everyone was very busy and we needed to pull on her experience to make this work.

And, we have to thank New York Homes and Community Renewal for making the purchase and improvements possible for these homeowners. The economic benefit and security that these homeowners are now on a path for is truly Kayadeross Acres leaders welcomed the neighborhood children to take a lead role in the community planning process by helping decide what the ROC’s new playground will look like. remarkable and so important.

We are all supportive of helping these homeowners bring Kayadeross Acres to its former status as the best in the market. With strong ROC leaders doing so many things so well and so quickly, I have strong confidence they will be there in short order.

I have many things on my to-do list that are more about driving our mission forward from a systems standpoint but what a gift it is that I could work again shoulder to shoulder through the development and purchase process. I really miss it.

Tags:  Ballston Spa  community leaders  conventional residential mortgage products  cooperatives  Kayadeross Acres  manufactured home communities  manufactured housing  mobile home parks  mobile homes  mortgages  myROCUSA.org  New York  Pathstone  paul bradley  ROC USA  roc usa network  rocusa  trailer parks 

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Safe, clean and neighborly ... it’s what we’re all looking for

Posted By Paul Bradley, Friday, October 28, 2016

My mother has purchased a new HUD-code manufactured home – a Marlette multi-section home.  She walked into that home on the retail sales center’s site and said, “I like this one!”

 

She had a similar response to the site where the home is now located and which will as of Saturday night be the neighborhood in which my mom lays her head at night.  (She’s still very active so there’s no knowing where she is on any given day!) 

 

When we were looking at possible “age in place” friendly and affordable housing options, we had driven through two co-op manufactured (“mobile”) home communities – the Fisherville 107 and Fisherville 82 co-ops. Both are just a few minutes from where I grew up and my mom still lives.  She was impressed.  “Wow, they have improved a lot since I was last in them,” she remarked. 

 

But, there were no vacant sites and the idea of buying an older home and replacing it was hard to “see”.  I get it.  For those of us in the business, we can see that.  It’s hard for consumers to see that.

 

Then a new co-op took ownership just a few hundred yards further south. Freedom Village Co-op bought their community at the end of 2015 with the help of the ROC-NH team.  (Full disclosure: ROC-NH is a program of the NH Community Loan Fund, which is both a Technical Assistance affiliate and a LLC Member of ROC USA, LLC.  I will blog on this relationship shortly so I do full disclosure justice.) 

 

The co-op purchased the community with 12 vacant sites. 

 

I drove my mom through sometime last spring and she said, “Oh, I have two friends who live here.” 

 

And, two of the sites could accommodate multi-section (or, “double-wide”) homes.  She liked one in particular.  A row of trees between her back yard and the neighbor’s back yard was attractive to her. 

 

That’s when we began looking at homes and found a match.  From there, it’s been progress on several fronts – cleaning out 35 years of collectibles (so to speak) at her current 19th-century home, placing the order for the home, and dealing with the co-op’s site improvements and the home’s placement.  All is fine.  The Certificate of Occupancy was delivered today and she’s now officially the.  Move-in starts at 9 a.m. tomorrow!

 

But, I want to talk about “safe, clean, and neighborly.”  You see, safe can be singularly defined as physical safety.  Of course, that’s a bare minimum.  But, I also know the business – I have been in this industry since 1988.  So safety, when you own the home but rent or lease the land, means you need to consider the safety of that relationship. 

 

A co-op has significant benefits for homeowners.  She is now a member in a community owned by the homeowner members.  Nothing will happen to the land or the community without the members having a say, having control.  It won’t be closed down.  Site fees (or lot rents) won’t be raised for any reason outside of the community itself.  And, if something needs to be fixed, the members have all the control they need to fix it. 

 

When you’re investing your life savings in a home, you want it to be secure.  Co-ops and Resident Owned Communities (ROCs) are secure.  That’s the point! 

 

The community, as you can see from this video, is clean.  People here care.  And, ownership gives people even more reason to care.

 

She’s already met members of the Board and has two friends already in the community, and she will soon meet many more members when she attends her first community meeting.  Neighbors have stopped by already and we’ve only been on site a few handful of times.  I spoke at their celebration this summer, and from that event, I can attest, these are good neighbors. 

 

She’s found a great home and a great neighborhood.  It’s safe, clean and neighborly.  And, I’m happy because she’s happy.  (I hope my back is happy on Saturday afternoon, too!)

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Only Neighbors Can Build Neighborhoods

Posted By Mike Bullard, Monday, October 24, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

That was the theme for this year’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI).  And, it really captures the essence of the CLI as well as ROC USA’s purpose.  Photo of Sign with event theme

I truly believe it; one doesn’t build a neighborhood.  Only people – the neighbors – create a neighborhood. 

The four days at the CLI are about the people – the volunteer community leaders themselves, and the neighbors they serve and care about.          

The CLI includes more than 800 volunteer community leaders, each focused on making neighborhoods better places for their families and neighbors.  It’s rare to have so many people learning and celebrating community in one place.  It’s really inspiring.

It demonstrates that there are very good things – and very good people – in many, many neighborhoods who are offering helping hands, generous hearts and focused minds. 

There is so much of it at CLI that it led Donna from Barrington Oaks to say to Anne and me on Saturday afternoon: “You know, it’s really easy to think that the world is full of people and businesses looking to take advantage of other people but here it’s so cool to see so many people just motivated to make their neighborhoods better places – people who are not looking for personal gain, just a good and safe neighborhood.”  She concluded by saying, “I’m so happy I came.  I feel so good.”

Donna captured “the magic of CLI” at a high level.  Hope is renewed!     PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLI CICIRELLI  Anne and Donna of Barrington Oaks pose for a photo with Kelli Cicirelli of ROC-NH during the 2016 Community Leadership Institute in Columbus, Ohio.

Thank you to our 48 CLI participants and three spouses from 24 ROCs, as well as the seven TA providers and five ROC USA staff for making the 2016 CLI another magical year!

We don’t yet know where we’ll be next October but there’s no question ROC USA will be there.  We invite you to apply next spring.  Let Deb know if you’d like to be on the notification list at dwyman@rocusa.org or watch myROCUSA.org for news.  If we’re able to take you, you will be glad you came! 

Visit us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rocusa.bettertogether) for more pictures and stories from this year’s CLI!    

 

 

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Look for CLI coverage coming soon to a screen near you

Posted By Paul Bradley, Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It’s a busy day here in New Hampshire. We’re gearing up for Community Leadership Institute, which starts tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio.

A perennial favorite of ROC leaders and ROC USA staff, 2016 promises to be a CLI like no other. We’re doubling the number of ROC leaders who will be joining us: 50 leaders from 23 ROCs in 8 states. At our first CLI in Milwaukee in 2009, we had only six ROC leaders and this year we have more states represented than that.

We’re also looking to expand our coverage of this awesome experience. I’ve asked our communications manager, Mike Bullard (mbullard@rocusa.org), to pump out updates on social media and right here on myROCUSA.org.

We’re also asking the 50 ROC leaders in attendance to offer up their thoughts and experiences from Columbus. In addition to spreading the word about CLI, it’s a terrific way for them to share with loved ones and neighbors back home.

Look for dispatches from CLI under ROC News, and on Facebook and Twitter . You can follow ROC USA by clicking on these links:

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/rocusa.bettertogether

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/ROCUSAorg  

Finally, if you like what you see and want to be reminded when applications go out for the 2017 CLI, just let Deb Wyman (dwyman@rocusa.org) know with a quick note.

 

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I Believe in Manufactured Housing!

Posted By Mike Bullard, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

 

Photo of Lois Bradley

 

My mother has spent her entire life – save four years at University of New Hampshire – within one square mile in lower Boscawen and Penacook, New Hampshire. 

That one square mile does not reflect limitations.  My mom has traveled extensively and has wide interests.  Books take her most places now though she still travels Photos of Lois Bradley’s home under construction.some and performances at the Capital Center for the Arts – where she’s a volunteer usher – takes her places, too.  She’s active in two village committees and has a circle of friends, the size of which, I marvel at. 

No, that square mile actually reflects deep roots.    

That said, she hasn’t wanted to move from her house of 35 years.  But, she needs to.  The only bathroom in her house is on the second floor.  And, there’s no good solution for it on the first floor. 

For the last five years, I have been suggesting we need to find an age-friendly living Photos of Lois Bradley’s home under construction.situation for her.     

We’ve looked at a retirement community owned by a nonprofit in town but found that to be way too expensive.  We looked at the only single floor age-restricted condo in the area but it was in a forest of pine trees and dark.  She likes sunshine and flowers.

We also looked at new HUD-code manufactured homes at two local retailers.  The 12th one we walked into she said, “Oh, I like this one.  It really feels like a home.” 

Fast-forward 10 weeks:  Her new 28-by-52-foot Marlette arrived from a Clayton Homes factory in Lewistown, Pa., last Thursday!  My brothers are on alert – moving day is three weeks away!  Photos of Lois Bradley’s home under construction.

The overall value for this 1,456-square-foot home – with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms – is simply extraordinary.  With the concrete slab, pressure treated stairs and set-up included, the home came in just under $67 per square foot turn-key.  That’s $30 a square foot less than modular (apples to apples) and greater still less than a site-built home.    

We worked through Concord Homes, a local retailer that I know well from my time in the business. 

Concord Homes became a Next Step Retail Direct verified retailer through the process.  Next Step is a national network of nonprofit organizations facilitating the Photos of Lois Bradley’s home under construction.use of high-value, energy-efficient, factory-built homes as an affordable housing option for working and retired Americans.  I wanted to use Next Step because we wanted an Energy Star-certified and universal design (i.e. wider doors, walk-in showers, door levers instead of knobs – all intended to allow owners to more comfortably age in place) home that would put her 19th-century home to shame.  (I want no longing feelings for that old place!)

My mom will soon be living on a single-floor in a home that she can age in much Photos of Lois Bradley’s home under construction.more successfully and comfortably.  It’s bright and affordable.  Her heating bills will be more than halved and her tax bill cut by two-thirds. She’s happy, which makes me happy. 

I believe in manufactured housing for my mom. 

I believe in manufactured housing, period. 

 

 

 

The first in an occasional series by ROC USA President Paul Bradley. Reach Paul at pbradley@rocusa.org.

 

Photos of Lois Bradley’s home construction team

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Seeing ROC leaders volunteer time to keep learning is always motivational

Posted By Paul Bradley, Thursday, September 29, 2016
I was so happy to attend the Cooperative Development Institute’s leadership training last Saturday at the beautiful West Wood Village in Plymouth, Mass. Representatives from nine ROCs in Mass. were there and most came in small groups. Folks from Edgeway and Twin Coach, Wheel Estates, Turnpike Park, Pine Tree and Cranberry villages, Oak Hill, Rustic Pines and of course our hosts, West Wood Village.

 

There is nothing more meaningful and inspiring to me than to be with a dedicated Photo of Maureen Carroll and Jo-Anna Jackson group of ROC leaders and TA provider staff members working collaboratively to overcome challenges and produce success. On this day, I was not the only one to draw energy from getting together. I was smiling ear to ear when several people said, “Let’s have more of these!” Someone even said, “in two weeks!”

 

Meeting attorney Adam Bond and hearing his presentation was terrific. He’s good. Numerous co-ops are using him but everyone was able to share in his experience Photo of Adam Bondwith back rent collections and rules enforcement, as well as generally benefit from sage advice like, “Don’t post Board business on Facebook!”

 

I was happy to introduce representatives of the National Co-op Bank who are looking seriously at a program to finance homes in ROCs. They were impressed with the communities they saw and the ROC leaders they met. We’re hoping they will decide to begin financing homes soon! The program could go nationwide pretty quickly after a successful test in Massachusetts. My fingers are crossed.

 

Other workshops included one by Kim Capen, the ROC Association’s New England Representative. He serves on the ROC USA Board of Directors. He talked about Community Building based upon his experience at Medvil Co-op in Goffstown, N.H. Photo of Kim CapenJo-Anna Jackson and Thomas Choate of CDI’s NEROC team also facilitated a workshop on how to build a stronger community and Thomas lead a discussion on resolving conflicts. ROC-NH team member Angela Romeo, who works with ROCs in New Hampshire, joined by video conference to speak on community infrastructure. And, Gary Faucher facilitated an open forum on enforcing community rules through relationship building and communication.

 

It was all good content made effective by strong participation by everyone. I was so Photo of Thomas Choate impressed with the insight that ROC leaders demonstrated throughout the day. You all inspire me. Thank you!

 

This is one of several regional meetings taking place. Earlier in the month, CASA and ROC-NW – TA providers in Oregon and Washington – collaborated on the ROC-A-PALOOZA for ROC leaders in those states. I was not able to attend but I heard great things about it. If anyone has any pictures and stories to share – please do!

Tags:  #cooperatives  cooperatives  manufactured home communities  manufactured housing  Massachusetts  mobile home parks  myROCUSA.org  New Hampshire  paul bradley  ROC Association  ROC USA  roc-nh  rocusa  trailer parks 

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