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Legislation Aims to Preserve and Revitalize Manufactured Home Communities

By November 15, 2023News, News Position 2

New federal legislation just introduced earlier this month is aimed at preserving and revitalizing manufactured home communities. The proposed bill seeks to make the Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) grant program permanent, emphasizing the preservation of communities owned by the homeowners. If passed, this legislation would secure ongoing funding for critical enhancements in resident-owned communities, providing stability, control over infrastructure, and addressing the pressing affordable housing crisis faced by hardworking families and retirees nationwide. The bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in collaboration with U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore. 01).

Resident owned communities, or ROCs, represent a growing national movement that empowers individuals and families to take control of their living spaces. Unlike traditional investor-owned communities, ROCs are owned and governed by the residents themselves, fostering a sense of community pride, stability, and long-term investment in the well-being of the neighborhood. The nonprofit ROC USA works to help homeowner groups purchase their communities across the country. Today, we work with more than 300 of these communities, which are made up of 22,000 homes in 21 states.

ROCs in Montana receive coaching and training from our local affiliate, NeighborWorks Montana, whose key staff are copied on this message. NWMT currently works with 19 ROCs in Montana.

This is more than just a local development – it’s a testament to the resilience and determination of individuals who have come together democratically to shape their living environment positively.

Critical Legislation

These neighborhoods, so often the backbone of hardworking families and retirees from coast to coast, are frequently the only opportunity for homeownership amid a growing affordable housing crisis across the country, making this critical legislation for preserving homes that Americans can afford.

“U.S. Sens. Cortez-Masto, Shaheen, Tester and Smith and U.S. Rep. Bonamici have heard the voices of low-income homeowners in ‘mobile’ home communities,” said ROC USA President Paul Bradley. “These are the stories of hardworking families and retirees who simply want to live in resilient and healthy communities, which is something that most Americans take for granted thanks to public investment.”

The bill, introduced by Sen. Cortez Masto, seeks to make the Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) grant program permanent. This program is designed to aid in preserving and revitalizing manufactured housing communities, with specific emphasis on those owned by the homeowners who live in them. Resident owned communities, or ROCs, offer homeowners security, stability, and control over infrastructure systems, fostering a strong sense of community and pride.

If passed, the legislation would secure ongoing funding for basic residential infrastructure, like clean water and safe sanitation, in ROCs and other affordable manufactured home communities, benefiting thousands of Americans annually.

Community Development Block Grant Revision

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently announced a revision to the Community Development Block Grant rules to explicitly include manufactured housing and the Federal Housing Administration announced it is revising its Title I program, a personal property manufactured housing loan program.

This is another recognition of manufactured housing communities as an important and underutilized response to the housing crisis that exists in every American community. Housing reports continue to show increasingly dire numbers in terms of needed housing starts that are not taking place. Preserving these dense neighborhoods controlled by democratic homeowner groups is far more affordable, scalable, and practical than building new affordable units.

“These are huge wins and changes we’ve been seeking for years. HUD taking the lead is an indication that manufactured housing is so important in communities just like mine,” said ROC Association Board Chair Marjory Gilsrud, who lives in a ROC in Madelia, Minn. “It’s just like our city administrator said recently – much of our city’s workforce lives in manufactured housing and we’re all in this together.”