8/6 Flashback: Land, Lord.

8/6 Flashback: Land, Lord. August 6, 2022

From August 6, 2008, “Change the rules

… The solution to a situation in which the land and the home are owned by different people is to create a situation in which the land and the home are not owned by different people. The solution is to create a situation in which those millions of Americans living in trailer parks become the owners of those trailer parks.

This is already starting to happen, at least in a small way. A New Jersey non-profit, READS, will be working with the Delaware Manufactured-Home Owners Association to help the First State’s 38,000 manufactured-home owners become the owners of the land underneath their homes. This is happening as part of the nationwide effort coordinated by New Hampshire-based ROCUSA. ROC stands for “resident owned communities,” which is what we’re talking about here.

Here, again, is how ROCUSA summarizes its mission:

ROC USA is a social enterprise that offers training, networking, and financing to help homeowners gain security through community ownership.

ROC USA solves the financial and technical challenges faced by homeowners when they seek to acquire their manufactured home communities. Today there are roughly 3.5 million US homeowners in an estimated 50,000 manufactured home communities.

Through ROC USA and its national network of Certified Technical Assistance Providers, homeowners can join together with their neighbors to acquire the manufactured home community in which they live, and be secure and thrive in resident-owned communities.

Here’s my immodest proposal: Let’s turn all of those 50,000 manufactured home communities into resident-owned communities.

To get there from here might require some changes in state and local laws, tax codes and zoning regulations, so state legislators are going to need to get in touch with people like the folks at ROCUSA to find out what kind of changes would help to ease and expedite this transition, what kind of incentives might be offered and what hurdles (such as access to credit for the homeowners) might need to be cleared.

The only problem with the goal of this transition would be that it would mean the end of the trailer-park owner industry. That’s not really much of a problem, though, since everybody in that industry is already looking for a way out. (That is, after all, the basis for this whole dilemma in the first place.)

Some of these communities might adopt a land-trust model, many others might simply become more traditional neighborhoods, where individual lots are individually owned. There’s nothing socialist about this idea — it’s not like we’d be creating kibbutzes or something. We’re talking about real homeownership — red-blooded American capitalism.

There’s also nothing inherently partisan about this goal. It seems to me that both Democrats and Republicans would have ideological reasons for supporting such a transition. Apart from the question of local or regional vested interests — particular developers with their particular corrupt legislators — I don’t see much reason for any political opposition.

Obviously, therefore, I’m missing something. So here’s where I need your help: Why shouldn’t the transition to resident-ownership be a goal in every state or province with land-lease manufactured-home communities? What political, ideological, economic, etc., reasons might there be to oppose such a goal? …

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