June 26, 2022

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Delighting home maniacs

Community Loan Fund Manufactured Home Residents Oppose Law Change / Public News Service

Community Loan Fund Manufactured Home Residents Oppose Law Change / Public News Service

A bill before the Legislature would make it harder for manufactured-housing communities in New Hampshire to become resident-owned communities (ROCs), by requiring 51% of all residents to vote in favor of an offer to purchase.

Under current law, when a manufactured-home park is being sold, residents have the option to purchase it themselves and form a cooperative, with help from Community Loan Fund and local bank partners.

New Hampshire has 140 resident-owned communities now, with roughly 8,500 residents, most of them low-income.

Tara Reardon, vice president of the ROC-NH Community Loan Fund, said there are sometimes barriers to participation at the initial vote, or people are not interested at first.

“It’s not unusual that we have less than 51% who make the decision to move forward,” Reardon explained. “But it is the norm that by the time they get to a purchase and sale and buy in their community, that 100% of the households do join these cooperatives.”

Those who testified in support of the bill said there are problems with the interest rates the Community Loan Fund charges and differences in rent. Reardon countered the proposal would not solve those problems, instead essentially preventing any community from purchasing itself. The bill has a hearing in the state Senate today.

Reardon added manufactured-home parks tend to be big, flat, even plots of land with water and sewer hooked up to them, which makes them really attractive to developers. However, she pointed out when residents of the community buy it, they set the rules themselves.

“When investors buy a resident-owned community, sometimes they raise the rent and make it unaffordable, which is one issue,” Reardon emphasized. “And sometimes they, because New Hampshire law allows them, can give an 18-month notice, collect the rent for 18 months, and then just remove all the homes.”

She added there are many reasons residents may not join the co-op at first. They may not be able to attend meetings because of work, caregiving, transportation or mobility issues, or they may fear retaliation from park owners if the offer doesn’t go through.

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