- MORE PROGRAMS
August 17, 2016
Centralia mobile-home residents purchase their community
SEATTLE, Wash.—This summer, about 200 low-income residents northeast
of Centralia are making long-awaited improvements to their neighborhood.
That’s because they own it now. The 45-site Hillside “mobile-home park” on Windsor Avenue now belongs to its residents, who recently purchased the land and infrastructure with the help of a loan from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and other partners.
“We are excited to be a part of transforming this community,” says
Karen Miller, chair of the Housing Finance Commission.
Over 90% of the homeowners in the new Hillside Homeowners Cooperative are Spanish speakers employed at local timber, agricultural and manufacturing sectors—and their relief is unanimous as they begin to tackle new challenges and future plans for their cooperative.
“As part owner, I find comfort in knowing that my place here is secured," says Gaby Niño, treasurer of the Hillside Homeowners Cooperative. “We are currently talking about fixing the roads and securing our mailboxes. We are also talking about our options with the forested parcels.”
In most manufactured home communities (also known as “mobile-home parks”), residents own their homes, but not the land beneath them—making them vulnerable to rate increases, deferred maintenance, and losing their homes to redevelopment if the land should be sold.
In order for Hillside to purchase the land, the community members
first formed a resident-owned cooperative (ROC) in which each homeowner
buys one low-cost share in exchange for a vote. They elect a board of
directors and vote on larger matters like the annual budget, bylaws and
The Hillside Cooperative then bought their land for $1.44 million with the help of a loan from ROC USA Capital, Mercy Loan Fund and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. ROC Northwest helped facilitate the sale and provided technical assistance, and will continue to support the community for the next several years.
ROC Northwest also connected the Hillside community to a wealth of resources to empower residents with technology literacy, ESL support, and Spanish reading and writing skills, thanks to a partnership between the Olympia-based nonprofit CIELO, student interns from Evergreen State College, donated computers and a $10,000 grant from Compass Compact.
“While working with them to form a cooperative, purchase and organize, we have learned a lot about the talent that exists in the community to operate a homeowners co-op,” says Daniel Arranaga of ROC Northwest, who supported the cooperative and led the language literacy initiative.
The community’s biggest hurdle will be finding a solution for unusually high utility bills that cost homeowners several hundred dollars a month. Hillside is exploring the possibility of annexation to the city of Centralia, which would allow lower utility rates and contribute to long-term affordability for residents.
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