Lot-Leasing Homeowners In Aging, Decaying 133-Unit NYS Trailer Park Save Their Homes From Eventual Wrecking Ball; Score $4 Million Loan To Buy Out Landlord, Make Essential Infrastructure Improvements, Obtain Long Term Security, Protection Against Possible Boot From Low-Cost Neighborhood By Hungry Condo Developers
- For the last decade or so, life was grim for the residents at Creek and Pines Mobile Home Community in Milton.
The water infrastructure was leaky, causing low pressure or no water at all. There has been trouble with the septic and electric systems. And its last manager, Harold Wolcott, was arrested for allegedly choking a tenant for playing his music too loud.
"It's been quite an ordeal for us," said Danielle Marshall, a six-year resident of the community. "But now I feel like we won the lottery."
Her change in attitude came in the form of a $4 million loan that has allowed the mobile home owners to form a cooperative and buy the 33 acres of land that 133 units sit on. The community was renamed Kayadeross Acres.
The fixed-rate loan, mostly from the state, also will go for upgrades to the water system, septic, storm sewage and electric. It will repave the roads, remove dozens of dangerous trees and rebuild the dilapidated playground.
In addition to the improvements, Marshall, the president of the newly formed co-op board, said the loan also buys security.
"Before, the owner of the park could have sold the land to a condo developer and kicked all of us out or jack up the rent," she said. "There is nothing we could have done. Now, we pay the co-op a monthly fee and the money we spend will go back into the community."
The financing for the new venture comes from the state's Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), an agency devoted to preserving affordable housing, and ROC USA, a New Hampshire nonprofit that helps mobile home park residents form cooperatives to buy the land under their mobile homes.
"We do this because it allows the homeowners to gain security and affordability over time," ROC USA President Paul Bradley said. "In my 32 years of doing this, we have never seen a co-op go bankrupt or go into foreclosure. Sustained ownership supports a community and creates success over time."
The transition to a co-op is seamless for the mobile home owners. They currently pay $447.43 per month to rent the lot. A homeowner who chooses to be in the co-op buys a share for $200. Payment plans allow owners to pay off the share for as little as $5 a month. The new monthly fee, previously sent to the former owners, Park Advisors in Minneapolis, will be $450. For those who are not in the co-op, rent will increase to $525.
Tim Connor, who has lived at Lot 76 for 30 years, said it's a good deal.
"We were all fed up with paying our lot rent to some outfit that goes to lining someone else's pocket and not improving the park," Connor said. "This gives us a long-term solution."
HCR and ROC USA already support co-ops at the Woodlands Community in Hornell, Steuben County, and Lakeville Estates in Geneseo, Livingston County. HCR Commissioner James Rubin said it's all part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to preserve affordable housing of all kinds.
"Manufactured homes are an invaluable, relatively low-cost affordable housing resource and, like other affordable homes, they are largely irreplaceable," Rubin said. "Kayadeross Acres residents are in control ... and now have the power to make cooperative decisions and changes that will ensure that those homes are kept sustainable, viable and affordable."
For Marshall, it's about having a voice in her neighborhood.
"Basically, each person has a say and the right to vote on what they want to see happen here," she said. "Everyone sees the possibilities. Even the kids are involved in deciding how the playground will be with twisting slides and a castle. It's been an amazing adventure."
See also, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Roc USA® and Pathstone Help Ballston Spa Residents Buy Their Manufactured Home Park (Purchase Preserves 133 Capital Region Homes as Affordable Housing; Residents Proclaim “We Own It!”; $4 Million State Investment Buys Cooperative Ownership and Essential Infrastructure Improvements at Kayadeross Acres Manufactured Home Park).