Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oregon Non-Profit Group Acts As Intermediary That Organizes & Assists Mobile Home Residents To Avoid Eviction, "Control Their Own Lives" By 'Buying The Dirt' Underneath Their Homes From Lot-Leasing Landlords Looking To Sell, Cash In

From a recent story in the Portland (Oregon) Tribune:
  • [B]uying the dirt

    CASA of Oregon,(1) which stands for Community and Shelter Assistance Corp., expanded into mobile home buyouts after a wave of park closures in 2007, says Peter Hainley, the executive director.

    So far, the group has helped nine mobile home parks form cooperatives and get financing to buy out their landlords.

    Mobile home owners have little recourse when their landlords slap yearly rent increases on them, because they own their homes but it’s very costly to move them, even if they can find a park that will accommodate them.

    “The down side is you don’t own the dirt,” says John Van Landingham, a staff lawyer for Lane County Legal Aid Advocacy Center,(2) who has worked in the mobile home field for 40 years. But when tenants buy the land, “they get to control their own lives,” he says.

    Under the 2014 law that Van Landingham helped write, owners must provide tenants at least 10 days to fashion buyouts after giving notice their parks are for sale. That’s when CASA of Oregon steps in.

    It can make offers to buy the complexes, and get access to confidential financial information about the parks. CASA has relationships with lenders that provide low-interest loans, and mobile home owners help pay off the loans via their monthly space rent.

    CASA builds in extra money in its deals so there is some funding to spruce up the parks, which often are in disrepair when an owner decides to redevelop their property for something more lucrative.

    “We want to upgrade the (Oak Leaf) park, so we don’t look like we’re a bunch of derelicts,” says Renae Corbett, who has emerged as a leader of the park residents. “We may have to raise the rent, maybe 50 bucks,” she says, to help finance the deal.

    Many park residents have construction skills, and can supply some sweat equity, Corbett says.

    “For minimal dollars you do the fix-up,” says resident Larry O’Mara. “It’s not as expensive as people think.”

    Because it’s so costly and difficult to move mobile homes, some are advertised on Craigslist for free, O’Mara says, for folks who will move them. “Some of them are in really fine shape.”
Source: Mobile Home Owners Unite To Thwart Eviction.
(1) Casa of Oregon is a private non-profit community development corporation that advocates statewide for the needs of low-income families in connection with providing affordable housing, neighborhood facilities, and programs that enhance their financial well-being.

(2) Lane County Legal Aid Advocacy Center is a non-profit law firm that provides civil legal assistance in Lane County, Oregon to people in poverty, many recipients of public benefits, and many persons who experience disabilities, as well as people 60 and over.

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