Monday, November 29, 2010

Quabbin Sunrise Cooperative Purchases the 65-home Oakwood Mobile Home Park: Ware, Massachusetts

Lisa Gauvin, Quabbin Sunrise Cooperative (774) 200-3192
Rich Lannan, Seller (603) 888-8950 or (603) 491-8106
Andrew Danforth, Housing Program Manager, CDI (413) 665-1271
Michael Sloss, Managing Director, ROC USA™ Capital (603) 724-8370
Paul Bradley, President, ROC USA, LLC (603) 848-3254
Ware, MA -- Dozens of families in Ware celebrated Thanksgiving early on Tuesday, November 23rd, the day they become owners of the mobile home park where they live. Quabbin Sunrise Cooperative purchased the land and facilities of Oakwood Mobile Home Park, with 65 homes on over 100 acres near the scenic Quabbin Reservoir.
Prior to the sale, the land and facilities were owned by Ware Oakwood, LP of Nashua, NH for almost 12 years, who chose to offer the residents the first right to purchase the property. Richard Lannan, President of The Lannan Company and the general partner of Ware Oakwood, was thrilled that the residents acted on this opportunity. "We normally either list the property or market it ourselves in order to seek the highest value possible. By law, the residents would have had the first right of refusal anyway, so why not give them the opportunity right up front? I feel this was a wise investment for all the residents and now they own a stake in their community. We wish them well!"
The sale marks the culmination of almost a year of hard work on the part of the leadership of Quabbin Sunrise, who incorporated and began organizing the cooperative back in February, before they were even certain the park would go up for sale. The directors persisted throughout the months because, as Vice President of the cooperative Phyllis Aldrich states, "We were happy to have the chance to grow from just being renters without any say in the place we call 'home' to being members in a community where you have a say in what the future holds."
The cooperative was provided with technical assistance by the South Deerfield, MA-based Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), a certified technical assistance provider with ROC USA, a national nonprofit organization that works to help residents of mobile home parks form cooperatives and buy their parks. Technical assistance will continue to be provided by CDI to the cooperative throughout the life of the mortgage loan.
Although their work running the park has just begun, members of Quabbin Sunrise Cooperative are taking an extra moment to take stock of what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. For one, Lisa Gauvin, President of the cooperative and resident of the park for 5 years, is thankful "for friendships that have formed among neighbors, for a sense of ownership that has overtaken a community where once we were just renters, and most of all for a sense that our money will reap benefits for us instead of a landlord."
Cooperatives are democratic associations in which homeowners in the community each buy one low-cost share, and have one vote on matters of the community. The members elect a Board of Directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote as a membership on larger matters like the annual budget and By-laws and rules. By removing the profit motive, cooperatives can provide better facilities at less cost to residents than investor-owned developments.
Full financing for the project was provided by ROC USA Capital, a national Community Development Financial Institution ("CDFI") that is certified by the Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund. "ROC USA Capital is very pleased to have met the financing needs of the co-op and helped homeowners preserve their affordable community during a time when moderate-income homeowners across the nation have experienced significant distress," noted Michael Sloss, Managing Director, ROC USA Capital.
Co-op ownership of mobile home parks as a way of preserving affordable communities is a national priority for several national non-profit organizations that in 2008 formed ROC USA to make "resident-owned communities" viable nationwide. ROC USA is sponsored by the Ford FoundationNeighborWorks AmericaNCB Capital Impact, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, and the NH Community Loan Fund.
ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a national network of 11 organizations such as CDI and a national financing source for co-ops. "We solve the two basic barriers to resident ownership – access to expert technical assistance and financing to help homeowners become buyers when their community is for sale," states Paul Bradley, ROC USA's founding president.
The Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is a Regional Cooperative Development Center, founded in 1994, which has assisted dozens of new and existing cooperatives throughout New England and New York. It is involved in not only cooperative housing, but also with agriculture, consumer, worker-owner, energy, and fishing cooperatives.
ROC USA Network has helped 21 communities preserve 1,391 homes in ten states since its launch in May of 2008.

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