Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News
The residents of Parklane Mobile Home Park in Fort Collins recently celebrated a pretty exciting achievement not often seen, they upgraded from residents to landlords.
Occupants of the Colorado mobile home park came together to form a non-profit they named United Neighbors/Vecinos Unidos (UN/VU). That could then serve as representation in the purchase of their park, and by doing so, they’ve preserved affordable housing and guaranteed that residents can govern their own community from here on out.
“When we talk about this project it is not about the individual or someone taking advantage for themself, but it is about the community,” said resident Reidesel Mendoza.
Parklane residents started discussing the possibilities of purchasing the park after their landlord informed them it would be going up for sale in December of last year. Knowing they wanted to remain in their community and that the sale would likely result in an increase in rent, or the park being replaced altogether, they quickly jumped into action as they all shared the sentiment that it was a community worth fighting for.
“I have lived in this community for 15 years,” said Parklane resident Evelia Rosas. “I like this place because it is central. It is close to schools, stores, gas stations, and it is a place that is safe and calm. I like my community very much and I am ready to make positive changes alongside my neighbors. For us, it is a dream come true.”
In a news release issued by UN/VU, they worked closely with two nonprofits in particular, The Genesis Project and The Matthews House, to assist in the process of making an offer and securing funds to do so. It became apparent they would need to form a non-profit to proceed with making an offer and it was from this point that United Neighbors/Vecinos Unidos (UN/VU) was born. Residents, UN/VU and many community organizations were instrumental in supporting the goal of purchasing the property. When all was said and done, UN/VU successfully managed to buy the park for $6.8 million. Funding was broken down by $1 million in a forgivable loan from Larimer County, a $2.8 million loan from the Bohemian Foundation, and a $3 million loan from the Impact Development.
“We hope that resident ownership and resident governance will become less rare, and that this sale will inspire residents of other parks,” said Adry Santiago, UN/VU board member. “Our Colorado legislators and our community nonprofits recognize that maintaining affordable housing is one of the largest and most important challenges we must tackle.”
According to the news release, Parklane is one of only six mobile home parks in Colorado to have transitioned into resident governance/ownership since Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act was updated to provide residents more opportunities to purchase their communities in June 2020. Since the amendment came into effect, 69 mobile home parks have sold throughout Colorado. Though the legislation makes it more attainable for residents to purchase, only about nine percent of these parks have sold to residents.
In the same news release, it was stated that in Larimer County from January 2020 through July 2022, 30% (approximately 2,000 mobile homes) of all mobile home park units (approximately 5,700 mobile homes) are located in parks that have sold to new owners, however, none of them have been sold to residents or the resident representatives.
According to the residents and now owners of Parklane, they’re ready and excited to get started with moving forward toward self-governance, which is said to include determining rent levels, utility services and maintenance. From here forward, residents will have the option to transition to resident ownership instead of non-profit ownership and this purchase will give them a sense of stability while exploring other models.
“Parklane is home to incredibly valuable community members of Fort Collins who deserve to stay housed and have autonomy and power. I’m thankful for the community-wide effort to support this project and honored to be a part of it,” said UN/VU board member Sarah Bolduc.
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Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News