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As mobile home owners battle rising housing costs, some have come up with a solution that also helps fight climate change by banding together to buy the land beneath their homes.
This model of collective ownership, also known as resident-owned cooperatives or ROCs, is on the rise. In 2000, that number was just over 200, and now he has 15,000, according to his 2022 study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There are more than that.
When residents own their land, infrastructure upgrades can be made more quickly. Climate change is involved. Renewable energy, particularly solar power, has unique benefits in these types of locations, said Kevin Jones, director of the Energy and Environment Institute at Vermont Law School.
“There’s nothing more perfect than these resident-owned communities because they already have a collaborative structure and generally own the land collectively,” Jones said. “[They] They are a type of natural community that can bring the benefits of sunlight to lower- to moderate-income people. ”
Mobile home parks (often a misnomer because many homes are attached to the ground) are home to more than 22 million Americans and are an important form of housing amid the national housing crisis. We offer
In many cases, private landlords delay important renovations while continuing to collect rents that residents pay for the land underneath rather than the actual property they can rent or own. This could create a system in which many owners invest thousands of dollars to pay off their homes, but park owners still pay land rent and other fees.
Eviction problems have been exacerbated in recent decades by private equity’s inroads into ownership of mobile home parks, resulting in lower rent, utility and other charges while conditions remain largely the same or worsen. often goes up in price.
Nonprofit organizations like ROCUSA are essential to providing communities with resources such as low- or interest-free loans, grants, and the planning knowledge needed to establish a co-op.
The organization not only supports individual co-ops, but also connects people across a vast network of co-ops, helping them share resources and knowledge. This process can be very useful, for example, during the lengthy process of obtaining permits for a solar array or when considering which contractor to use to install a heat pump in your home.
Ronald Palmer knows the process of installing solar power in your co-op. As Chairman of the Board of His Village of Lakeville in Geneseo, New York, he helped the community navigate the long process. It was one of his first solar power projects in Geneseo, a town in the upstate of about 7,000 people.
The community, which consists of 50 homes for people 55 and older, has had a solar array installed for just over two years. The benefits will not only benefit Lakeville Village residents, but also local businesses and other locations.
The majority of these co-ops are concentrated in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Jones said one reason states like New Hampshire have so many people is access to state-specific resources.
“The Northeast is clearly a region where there’s a lot of interest in solar power,” Jones said. “We don’t necessarily have the best solar resources in the country, but public policy for solar power is generally good.”
This will ensure that communities in these areas, including those living in resident-owned mobile home cooperatives, have access to the resources they need to install solar power.
In New Hampshire, ROC-NH connects co-ops with state resources to help co-op members prioritize their needs. According to Sarah Merchant, vice president of ROC-NH, these needs are typically related to financial stability.
“When we talk about residential communities and community solar, our goal is not just to reduce carbon emissions,” Merchant says. “But for this to work, we need to reduce costs and reduce bills.”
Merchant said this is critical for a community where members may be juggling two or three different jobs just to make ends meet.
The process of forming cooperatives and investing in climate-friendly projects takes time, but has many benefits.
In South Texas, a community-owned cooperative called Pasadena Trails outside Houston has found a solution to chronic flooding. The predominantly Latino community installed a drainage system that came in handy when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, drenching it with 60 inches of rain. After Harvey, Pasadena Trails performed better compared to neighboring areas.
Back in New York state, Lakeville Village residents are happy with a solar project that reflects the values of their older residents, most of whom are their grandparents. For them, this solar project was a way to take care of themselves and ensure a small step in the right direction for future generations.
“We want to reduce our carbon footprint, and one of our concerns was for our grandchildren and their children,” Jones said. “And we saw this as a way to contribute to that and be responsible grandparents.”