Saturday, September 02, 2017

44 Lot-Leasing Homeowners To Dodge Boot, Leveraging Professional Assistance From Nonprofit, Free Federal Money For Infrastructure Upgrades To Form Co-Op, Buy Out Retiring Landlord

In Castleton, Vermont, the Rutland Herald reports:
  • Robin Crowningshield said she had to step up to stay put.

    Crowningshield is chairwoman of the Windy Hollow Mobile Home Cooperative, which is preparing to take over the similarly named mobile home park on River Street. The organization is buying the park, with the help of the Cooperative Development Institute, and upgrading its infrastructure with a $362,000 federal grant.

    CDI consultant Sarah Martin said the organization advises cooperatively owned communities around New England through their first decade of existence. She said cooperative ownership of mobile home parks is on the rise and that she believes Vermont has seven such communities.

    “The main function is to keep rents low, keep infrastructure up to date and keep everything safe in the community,” she said. “Generally speaking, nonprofit- owned parks and cooperative parks … they’re not going to charge any more than they actually have to.”

    The drawback, she said, is they require more involvement.

    “You need to make sure you have a board of directors that’s willing to work, willing to volunteer,” she said. “That’s easier in some communities than others. We’ve been pretty lucky in Vermont, but a lot of times you have people who just want to pay their rent and go about their day-to-day.”

    Crowningshield, 56, an administrative assistant at Fair Haven Union High School, has lived with her husband in Windy Hollow for 12 years. She said it is a mix of older people and families.

    “It’s not a trailer park — it’s more of a community,” she said. “We’ve got quite a bit of lawn space. I’d say I’ve got about a quarter of an acre. It’s a nice little neighborhood, quiet.”

    Forty-four families live in Windy Hollow, and Crowningshield said she does not believe it will get any bigger.

    About two years ago, she said, they all received notice that owner Joe Howard was selling the park.

    “It’s kind of worrisome to find out you might have to pick up and move where you live,” Crowningshield said. “Then the state and CDI got ahold of us and gave us some options.”

    Josh Hanford, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, said his agency got involved because the park had septic, water and drainage issues that meant it was likely to close if the owner couldn’t find a buyer with the funding to deal with them.

    He said the town applied on the cooperative’s behalf for the community development block grant— federal money administered by the state — to do the repairs.

    “The displacement and trying to find replacement housing probably would have cost the state a lot more than this,” he said.

    Crowningshield was elected to head up the board at a meeting held at the community center.

    “ I spoke too much, I think,” she said.

    The sale has yet to close, but Crowningshield said the sale price will be roughly $1 million. Martin said CDI arranges financing so cooperatives don’t have to put any money down. Currently, the sale is pending an environmental review, required under the grant because the park is in a wetland.

    “ We’re in the home stretch and we’re hoping it’s all going to be over and done with in a couple months time,” Crowningshield said.
Source: Tenants to buy, upgrade mobile home park. aging infrastructure

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