Cooperative "Mobile Home" Communities: Empowered Homeowners Gain Economic Security and Economic and Social Benefits.

ROC USA makes resident ownership of Manufactured ("Mobile") Home Communities viable and successful.

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Eligibility

  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States

Gender

  • Man

Where are you making a difference?

We work with a 15-state network of 220 Resident Owned Communities that are home to 14,000 homeowners. Those states include: Wash., Ore., Montana, Utah, Minn., Wisc., Texas, NY, Delaware and all six New England states. A searchable map is available at http://www.rocusa.org.

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Civic Engagement
  • Development & Prosperity
  • Environment & Sustainability

Date Started

ROC USA was launched on May 6, 2008.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Budget

  • $1m - $5m

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

website: http://ROCUSA.org

Twitter URL

@ROCUSAorg

Facebook URL

@ROCUSA.BetterTogether

LinkedIn URL

@ROC USA

1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

On the eve of the 1st Meredith Institute, George McCarthy of the Ford Foundation asked me, "What does this look like in 10 years?" I had been so heads down getting ready for the Institute and focused on meeting the immediate need: Homeowners, nonprofits and agency folks wanted to make resident ownership possible in their states to stave off community closures. To channel the demand for our expertise, we convened an Institute. In response to Mac, I said, "Well, it will be a bell-shaped curve, with successes and failures. Everyone will need secondary market resources on the commercial and residential finance sides and each region will think they have the answer. Really, what need plan for scale now and bake it in from the start.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There are 2.7M owners of manufactured/mobile homes in some 50,000 or so Manufactured (Mobile) Home Communities. The vast majority are low-income. Owning a home on rented land subjects homeowners to three basic risks: 1. Excessive rent increases; 2. Unsafe community systems (like water and sewer) and 3. Displacement due to community closure and redevelopment. The MHC industry is very profitable for investors but not always secure for homeowners.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

ROC USA combines training and education with capital to make resident ownership viable for low-income homeowners willing to work together with their neighbors to create a co-op. ROC USA has organized a Network of currently nine nonprofit affiliates that operate training and Technical Assistance services locally. All adhere to ROC USA's standardized model of co-op ownership and set of organizing principles. ROC USA trains and supports its affiliates with a national team including an acquisitions, training, template documents and systems managers.

ROC USA also operates a wholly owned CDFI subsidiary which finances co-op purchases. That includes due diligence financing that is forgivable if the co-op doesn't buy but is available so all co-ops can hire an attorney, engineer and appraiser as a part of their decision to purchase. That's vital to our principled approach community organizing. ROC USA Capital also provides a high LTV first mortgage loan that makes co-op shares very low cost so even the lowest income homeowners can become members.

Our goal is alignment of ownership interests where everyone owns their home and one share in the co-op.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

A recent 99% Invisible podcast titled, "Immobile Home" tells the story of a Salt Lake County community that was threatened by closure for more than five years. Two different developers have owned the community in that period and each was intent on building apartments on the land. However, one of the 56 homes on the site was owned by Shirlene Stoven, an elderly woman who organized her neighbors and fought the redevelopment. Eventually, the second developer agreed to sell the homeowners the land (the community) if they could do it. They called ROC USA and UROC, our local affiliate. With nearly $5M in financing from the City, State and ROC USA Capital, the Applewood Homeowners Cooperative secured the community in Feb., 2018. As an elderly resident who moved to Applewood from another community that was closing said, "Resident ownership means security."

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Homeowners in MHC would have no possible way of acquiring large commercial assets like Applewood Estates without specialized community development financing of the sort that ROC USA Capital is providing. Higher income retiree communities could raise equity through large share values, sure, but low income communities need highly subordinated debt to make ownership of the land possible. That's what we do.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • ability
  • geography
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

ROC USA is the only national nonprofit that is serving homeowners in MHC that seek to purchase their community. And, further, ROC USA is deeply committed to empowering homeowners and co-op leaders and building a movement where co-op leaders are the leading voice. We are scaling grassroots co-op development in low-income communities and engaging co-op members in every part of the organization. The only other nonprofits preserving MHC are those few states in which nonprofits are buying MHC directly.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

ROC USA supports a total 220 Resident Owned Communities (ROCs) that are home to 14,000 homeowners/members in 15 states. In the last three years alone, ROC USA has helped preserve 48 communities in nearly 4,000 homes.

ROC USA Capital engages an appraisal firm to do market site fee ("lot rent") studies on all ROCs in its portfolio every five years. We know that on average, co-ops are raising site fees on average .82% per year compared to an industry average of 3% per year (according to the industry's trade group, MHI.)

On average, co-op site fees are $25 per month lower than market after five years of ownership, all while maintaining reserve requirements for future improvements, meeting lender convenants and completing audits.

Earlier data from a University of New Hampshire study showed homes in ROCs selling for 16% more per SF than comparable homes in investor owned MHC.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

ROC USA is scaling deep in existing states and scaling out in new geographies.

ROC USA Network works closely with existing affiliates on business and market development, staff training and systems development to achieve sustainable and strong local services.

ROC USA Network affiliated with Thistle Communities in Boulder, Col. in 2017 to serve the front range of Colorado and is currently working with two new possible affiliates, one in Texas and one in Idaho.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth
  • Franchising, Licensing, Accreditation
  • Large Scale Partnerships
  • Organizing Conferences
  • Trainings, Consultation
  • Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

ROC USA will achieve operating break-even in 2018 after a 10-year start-up period. ROC USA generates 90% of its earnings from Capital's lending and portfolio. With over 90% residual income, ROC USA's underlying economic model is strong. ROC USA does secure grant funding to help fund capacity and innovation in Network's affiliated operations and to grow its equity base for lending.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

ROC USA's senior management team - Paul Bradley, Pres., Mary O'Hara, Director, ROC USA Network, Michael Sloss, Director, ROC USA Capital - has been in place since the social venture's launch in 2008 with the exception of the CFO, David Doyon, who joined in 2009.

ROC USA: 2 FTE Communications, Accounting, and 1.5 Data/Administrative staff.
ROC USA Network: Training Manager, Acquisition Manager, Project Manager, and Systems Director.
ROC USA Capital: Loan Officer, Servicing Manager.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French)
  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

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