Puyallup: News

Residents of mobile home park band together to purchase site

It wasn’t like they were unfriendly.

Residents of Elmwood Mobile Manor have always been nice neighbors, but when they began working together to collectively purchase their 41-site mobile home park, the neighborhood dynamic began to change.

“Of course we wanted to buy it ourselves,” said Joe Del Vecchio, president of the community’s interim board of directors. “But we asked ourselves if this was even

It was not only possible, but as Del Vecchio would learn, it had the unexpected benefit of drawing the homeowners closer together.

“We’re more of a community than ever before, and that’s a really good thing,” said Del Vecchio, who has lived in Elmwood for eight years. “It’s a big deal to have a place we can own and can project what our rent’s going to be for about 10 years.”

The homeowners in Elmwood, located at 1006 72nd Ave. Ct. E, formed Elmwood Homeowners Cooperative and purchased the land and infrastructure for $2.16 million. Financing for the resident-owned community (ROC) was provided by ROC USA Capital, Mercy Loan Fund, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and JP Morgan Chase.

Many residents in Elmwood moved into the community to retire, and have significant personal equity invested in their homes. If not for this purchase by the residents, the land would be at risk redevelopment, as has much of the surrounding farmland. Instead, it will be preserved for all time as affordable housing — with a reserve fund for capital improvements over the years.

Elmwood is the sixth resident-owned community financed by ROC USA Capital in Washington, permanently preserving a total of 230 homes as affordable, said ROC USA Capital Managing Director Michael Sloss.

“We’re thrilled to meet the community acquisition needs with our unique financing,” said Sloss, pointing to the involvement of the lending partners. “The preservation of the homes in Puyallup through affordable, fixed-rate community financing so close to Seattle and Tacoma will have lasting impact here.”

ROC Northwest of Olympia will continue to provide technical assistance to the co-op for the length of the mortgage — at least 10 years.

“We are extremely happy for the new member-owners of the Elmwood Homeowners Cooperative,” said Ben

Dryfoos-Guss, ROC Northwest’s Manufactured Housing program manager. “Many residents have lived in Elmwood Mobile Manor for decades and were quite concerned about the security of the land under their homes. By establishing the co-op to purchase their community they were able to safeguard their homes, demonstrating incredibly strong leadership and inspiring initiative.”

In a resident-owned community, homeowners each buy one low-cost share and become members of the co-op, with one vote per household on matters of the community. They elect a board of directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote on larger matters like the annual budget, bylaws and community rules.

The ROC USA and Mercy Loan Fund financing was made available in part through a, $4 million grant from the JPMorgan Chase’s CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Collaborative program. This first-of-its-kind program creates capacity building partnerships among CDFIs to improve access to capital for small businesses, affordable housing and healthy food networks as well as create economic growth in distressed and underserved communities.