First Resident-Owned Community established in Colorado
CAÑON CITY, Colo. — Thistle, a Certified Technical Assistance Provider of ROC USA®, is proud to announce the establishment of the first resident-owned community in Colorado. Homeowners in Cañon City purchased their neighborhood for just over $2 million on Dec. 14.
“Thistle ROC is proud to have assisted the 38 families in the successful purchase of their community, securing permanent control over the land beneath their homes,” said Mary Duvall, CEO of Thistle and point of contact for Thistle ROC. “We look forward to supporting them for many years to come.”
The resident-owned community (or ROC) is made up of what used to be two separate neighborhoods: Canon Country and Cedar Village. Members of the Cañon City ROC, incorporated as Rocky Mountain Homeowners Cooperative (RMHC), now own the land under their neighborhood with financing and expertise provided by ROC USA® Capital and the Colorado Division of Housing.
Katie Southern knew she wanted to buy a home in the city she was born and raised in. After her mom died five years ago, she started looking around Canon City, eventually finding a manufactured home in a quiet neighborhood that was everything she hoped for.
A field nearby can often be found scattered with grazing horses during the summer months and the residents, many of whom are raising families, tend to stay there for the long run.
With the average home costing over $200,000, Southern said manufactured housing is a popular choice for prospective homeowners, an option she was thrilled to take advantage of.
“It’s way more affordable than anything in the area,” she said. “I really love this place.”
As the first resident-owned community in the state, Rocky Mountain Homeowner Cooperative residents are showcasing the model that’s helped to preserve affordable housing and empower residents nationwide for over three decades.
The average lot rent for the two communities was $401, though not everyone was paying the same amount across the board. With the new rent set for $407 and everyone paying the same amount, the democratically elected Board of Directors President said the homeowners are looking forward to being able to maintain their neighborhood on their own timeline and preserve this vital source of affordable housing in the area.
“It’s really worth a little extra money each month,” she said.
Others are standing behind residents as well.
Southern and Board Treasurer Katrina Stiefel took a trip up to Denver to meet with the Colorado State Housing Board to see if they would approve a submitted grant to help with the purchase and future repairs. They were elated to find that the Housing Board approved the grant for $600,000 toward site improvements.
“It just shows they believe it’s a worthwhile cause,” Southern said.
While listening to the other presentation given that day, Southern said it was clear why.
“We noticed that in Colorado, there’s a real lack of affordable housing,” Southern said. “A lot of people are trying to find affordable housing.”
Resident-ownership, she said, is one way of achieving that.
Staff from Thistle will also work with and coach residents for the duration of their loan – at least 10 years.
Though the first in Colorado, the resident-ownership model has benefited more than 14,500 homeowners across the nation since it was first developed and implemented by the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund in the 1980s.
“The Cañon City ROC is the first of its kind in Colorado — the second new state in our Network this year,” said ROC USA® Founding President Paul Bradley. “We’re excited to be working in Colorado with homeowners and Thistle to support more ROCs in Colorado and now 16 states nationwide.”
Homeowners are able to buy one low-cost member interest in these democratic ROCs. An elected Board of Directors acts on day-to-day issues. Members vote on larger matters, such as the annual budget, bylaws and community rules.
Cooperative ownership of manufactured (aka “mobile”) home parks as a way of preserving affordable communities is a priority for several national non-profit organizations that in 2008 formed ROC USA to make resident-owned communities viable nationwide.
ROC USA is a non-profit organization with a national network of 10 organizations such as Thistle and a national financing source for resident-owned communities. No co-op that purchased with ROC USA’s assistance has ever failed or reverted to commercial ownership, due in large part to the integrated financing and technical assistance model.
RMHC is the 228th ROC in the ROC USA network, which is made up of more than 14,700 homeowners nationwide.