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Taking Control: MN Mobile Home Residents Seek Park Ownership

Credit: Tyler Stubenhofer/Flickr
Credit: Tyler Stubenhofer/Flickr
October 26, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A growing number of Minnesotans who live in mobile homes are now building a solid foundation for the future by taking ownership of the parks in which they live.

Warren Kramer, executive director with the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, says those who live in manufactured home communities are at the mercy of the parks' owners, whose main goal is making money.

He notes that can mean regular rent increases, lack of investments for improvements and displacement. So Northcountry is working to help residents band together to gain ownership when parks go up for sale.

"So their lot rents become stabilized and become lower than rents in investor-owned parks in the market over time," says Kramer. "And then houses in resident-owned communities have been proven to sell faster and for more money precisely because of that kind of security that resident co-ops provide."

Kramer says Northcountry has already helped residents of eight manufactured home communities in the state cooperatively purchase their parks, with another located in Clarks Grove set to close next month.

In addition to the economic advantages, there are also social benefits of park ownership for the manufactured home residents, who are disproportionately senior citizens, those with disabilities and low-income families.

That's why the efforts are being partially financed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Carolyn Link is the executive director.

"We are funding this grant because we know that healthy, stable housing and the financial security that comes with it are really essential to good health," says Link.

The ownership conversions as a way to address the shortfall of affordable housing in Minnesota will be among the topics at the 11th annual Innovations in Manufactured Homes conference, which starts today. There are about 1,000 manufactured home parks in the state with a population approaching 200,000 people.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN