Co-op solving challenge of empty lots
Pine Grove MHP Cooperative in Swanzey, N.H. wrestled with how to put homes on its six vacant lots. Its homeowners pay a monthly fee to use the land under their houses, so those empty lots represented almost $24,000 a year in lost income.
Filling lots is a complex challenge many resident-owned communities (ROCs) face. Rent revenue pays for co-ops’ services, taxes, repairs, and upgrades. Those that maintain full occupancy can keep their members’ rents stable and affordable.
In Pine Grove, developed in the 1960s, most manufactured homes sit on blocks. Since 2004, though, state law has required that homes be installed either on a foundation or on a concrete pad that costs upwards of $7,500.
When Dolores Durant moved to Pine Grove in 2015, she attended meetings at which the co-op’s board of directors considered giving new homeowners six months’ free rent and various other incentives.
Before long, she was asking questions. “I bring up things that I see and wonder about, and I want to know why,” she says.
Her “why” in this case: Why doesn’t the co-op pay for the pads?
She began working with a committee, which met with ROC-NH trainers to discuss what filling the lots would mean to the co-op and how best to promote the co-op, and the Keene area, to potential homebuyers. Finally, they created a plan and got to work.
The committee erected a big “Why Rent When You Can Buy” banner at the park’s entrance this spring, and connected with a local manufactured-home retailer. By summer’s end the co-op had installed two pads and welcomed two brand-new homes. A double-wide pad was planned for the fall, with possibly the last three to follow next year.
Learn more about the Community Loan Fund’s ROC-NH program for resident-owned manufactured-home communities.
This story appeared in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s 2018 annual report.