Threatened w/ Closure, Rundown Mobile Home Park Avoids Gentrifying Developer's Wrecking Ball; 25 Families Dodge The Boot As Non-Profit Coalition Steps Up To Buy Out Park's Landlord, Keep Lot-Leasing Homeowners In Place; Federal Block Grant Application Planned To Complete Transaction & Make Upgrades & Repairs To Premises Infrastructure, Common Areas
- For the first time, the city of Portland has acted to preserve a mobile home park threatened with closure, and the city has gained a new nonprofit to preserve and manage such parks.
Portland Housing Bureau provided a $1.25 million loan to the Living Cully coalition, which used the money to purchase the Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park at 4556 N.E. Killingsworth St., in a Nov. 30 deal announced Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Oak Leaf park owner Van Tran had struck a deal early this year to sell the rundown complex to a company that planned to redevelop it for other uses, until residents intervened with the help of Living Cully, members of the faith community and others.
Tran’s deal to sell the complex to Living Cully means 25 Oak Leaf households can stay in their homes, and their rundown complex will be upgraded.
Living Cully, which secured a six-month, no-interest loan from the city, immediately turned over management of the park to St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County. St Vincent de Paul owns and manages five mobile home parks in Lane County, and now will be expanding into the Portland market.
St. Vincent de Paul will apply for federal block grant funding next year and expects to buy the complex from Living Cully, enabling it to repay the city loan, said Cameron Herrington, anti-displacement coordinator for the coalition.
“We hope to all be working together to make upgrades and repairs to the park infrastructure and the homes themselves,” Herrington said.
In Lane County, St. Vincent de Paul has helped renovate five rundown mobile home parks similar to Oak Leaf, which consists of single-wide mobile homes and some RVs. St. Vincent de Paul has made improvements to common areas at its parks, and sometimes helps residents acquire new mobile homes. Residents maintain ownership of their homes, and pay space rent to the nonprofit.
Nonprofits can provide more affordable space rents to mobile home and manufactured home owners, who often are captive to corporate park owners that routinely raise rents more than the rate of inflation.
“Affordable housing is a scarce resource everywhere in this state, especially in Portland,” said St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County Executive Director Terry McDonald, in a news release. “We need to take advantage of any opportunity to protect and preserve mobile home parks, which are a vitally important source of affordable housing.”
Living Cully is working to improve the Cully neighborhood in Northeast Portland, and simultaneously prevent gentrification that forces out local residents. Oak Leaf is one of a handful of mobile home parks along Killingsworth in the neighborhood.
At a time when Portland housing prices are skyrocketing and demand for new apartments is spiking, housing experts expert continuing redevelopment pressure on older mobile home parks.
“We anticipate it’s only a matter of time before we see more mobile home parks threatened with closure,” Herrington said.
But now the Portland Housing Bureau has made its first venture into protecting such parks, and the presence of St. Vincent de Paul here means there’s a new player in town that can assume ownership of embattled parks and preserve them.
According to a state database, there are 66 mobile home parks in the city of Portland with 3,241 spaces. There also are another 25 parks elsewhere in Multnomah County, with 1,852 spaces.
Mobile home parks and manufactured home parks supply what is believed to be the largest share of affordable privately owned housing.
See also, Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park purchased by non-profit partnership with funding from Portland Housing Bureau.