Residents of Mobile Home Community in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Want To Buy Back Park Sold To Investor Last August
Some residents of Oak Creek, a manufactured home community in Coeur d’Alene with almost 500 residents, hope to form a coalition and buy the park.
Source: (Coeur d’Alene Press) – Those who live in manufactured or mobile home communities, one of the few affordable housing options available in Kootenai County, are especially vulnerable to displacement – but residents of one such neighborhood are fighting to take ownership of their homes and others to do the same.
Last August, a Utah-based investment company called Havenpark Communities purchased Oak Crest, a manufactured home community in Couer’d’Alene with nearly 500 residents.
Since then, residents say rent has increased significantly – and many are struggling to keep up.
“A lot of people were afraid,” said Michael Collun, an Oak Crest resident since 2019.
In letters submitted to The Press, residents said rent for existing tenants will jump in November from $365 per month to $447 per month. That’s a 23% increase. In the past, residents said they were accustomed to renting, increasing by around $30 a month every few years.
Meanwhile, the lot rent for new residents has increased 33% from $595 per month last August to $795 per month.
Collun owns his manufactured home and can afford the lot rent for now. But he’s concerned for his neighbors, many of whom live on modest incomes and originally moved into Oak Crest with the intention of being their “forever home.” For them, the future is uncertain.
That’s why Collun is among a group of Oak Crest residents who plan to form a homeowner association with the goal of eventually purchasing their neighborhood.
To some manufactured home residents, real ownership seems like a pipe dream. But communities across the country have made it a reality.
“Resident ownership is an option,” said Victoria O’Banion. “This is real.”
O’Banion is a marketing and acquisitions specialist for ROC Northwest, a wing of ROC USA. The New Hampshire-based non-profit helps residents purchase their manufactured home communities.
ROC Northwest has helped facilitate the purchase of more than 20 resident-owned communities in Washington and two in southern Idaho – so far. More than 1,000 people live in those communities.
The resident-owned community model is “plug and play,” O’Banion said. Park owners get a fair purchase price and individual residents are not asked to put any equity into the purchase.
“But we need to have sellers who want to preserve their communities and give their residents a chance at the American dream,” she said.
After a ROC is established, monthly rent is the mortgage payment and operating costs divided by the number of lots. Rent typically increases, but it’s stable and residents own the land on which they live.
For that reason, O’Banion said, manufactured homes in ROCs tend to increase in value in a way that homes in traditional parks don’t. Residents don’t want to leave, while others are eager to move in.
Even if they’re unable to purchase their home, Collum said he and his neighbors hope to show residents of other manufactured home communities in North Idaho that it’s possible.
“If they unite, there’s nothing they can’t do,” he said.