Mobile home parks operate in sevaral ways, but do offer ownership
Terri Hage, member of the Bunker Hill Mobile Home Cooperative, puts it this way: “I have been a renter for many, many, many years and I really wanted to become (part of) a community where I could put down some stakes, and afford it at the same time. It’s been a lot of work but I’m so glad I did it because I am part of a community now, and I think that’s what it’s all about. When you’re talking about making this kind of a commitment, community is huge. We really try to work through things and look out for each other and I really like that too.”
There are 244 mobile home parks in Vermont. Sixteen of those parks are in Addison County. Nine of those are operated and owned by Addison Community Land Trust. The other seven parks are privately owned. Of the 6,600 mobile home park lots, 402 are located in Addison County. There is a 1.5 percent vacancy rate within the parks in Addison County: one indication of the value of and demand for these communities. Sarah Woodward, director; Annik Paul, resident organizer; and Anna Stevens, Americorps member, staff CVOEO’s Mobile Home Program.
They are present throughout the state to address the issues faced by residents of mobile home parks. While they have been focusing on resident-owned cooperatives, networking, and cooperative and community emergency training, they also work with mobile home owners on health and safety issues. Water safety, sewage, electrical services and roads are common issues and frequent concerns for mobile home residents.
While park residents lease their lots, residents can also enjoy pride of homeownership as 87 percent of all mobile homes in parks are homeowner occupied. The balance are rental properties. The homes are generally affordable. Approximately 75 percent of all mobile home owners do not have a mortgage. The 2014 median lot rent in Vermont is $315 a month. When a park goes up for sale the residents within that park have the right of first refusal.
There are six cooperative mobile home parks in Vermont. These parks are owned by the residents. They have shared governance, shared responsibility and shared ownership. A cooperative structure takes careful planning, thoughtful conversation and a pooling of resources. This is an area where the Mobile Home Program staff are especially helpful.
There are challenges that come with ownership, especially when it is shared. There are benefits was well. Woodward emphasizes that “cooperative ownership offers members the ability to vote on the park annual budget, a voice in prioritizing maintenance concerns and opportunity to build leadership and community. In this sense, cooperatives are an attractive way to keep housing affordable. But I remind folks that democracy can be messy. It’s expected that differing ideas will come to the table. The good news — you have a seat at the table.”
“The ache for home lives in all of us.” Maya Angelou. Many of those homes are in parks. For more information contact Sarah Woodward at [email protected].
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