Resident Owned Communities
ROC USA®: An Ecosystem to Secure Low- and Moderate-Income Neighborhoods
ROC USA®, a nonprofit social venture that stems from work dating back to 1984 in New Hampshire, is propagating co-op ownership of Manufactured Home Communities (MHC) through an ecosystem that combines local bootstrapping self-help with regional and national services to deepen the value proposition of co-op ownership.
Photo by Mike Gay, Taunton Gazette.
ROC USA® provides homeowners in MHCs access to three key resources to help them purchase the communities in which they live as well as support the success of their co-ops long-term:
- Expert assistance and training
- Specialized financing
- Member services.
Assistance and training is provided by affiliated nonprofit organizations certified by ROC USA® Network. Each affiliate–or, Certified Technical Assistance Provider–hires professional staff with expertise in real estate, financing and organizational development. Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) serves Maine communities in addition to Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Another affiliate–ROC-NHTM–serves New Hampshire. The ROC USA® Network currently has eight affiliates serving co-ops in 14 states.
Financing products include forgivable due diligence loans to make sure that new co-ops get third-party engineering advice, appraisers and legal help needed to make an informed decision to purchase. Informed democratic decision-making is a bedrock belief in ROC USA®.
Further, timely access to due diligence means co-ops can enter contracts, undertake due diligence and ultimately purchase the MHC within standard commercial timeframes. Co-ops also have access to all the financing they need to buy the MHC and set up reserves. In some cases, improvements can be financed, as well.
ROC USA® Capital, a ROC USA® subsidiary, is a U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that finances co-op MHCs that are working with a Network affiliate such as CDI. Other lenders also compete for loans to co-ops.
Member services include regional and national leadership training, marketing, online peer-to-peer networking, information sharing and training, as well as a co-op benefits program for discounts on products and services targeted to MHC co-ops and homeowners. ROC USA® also plays an active role in aligning home financing with various lenders in and new to the market.
A shared mission is at the heart of the ecosystem. Co-ops, Network affiliates, and ROC USA® all want to make resident ownership viable and successful. Central to the social venture’s plan for long-term success is to build on the strength of local ownership through support for a vibrant network of communities and nonprofits working together.
To that end, ROC USA® has incorporated its affiliates and community leaders in its governance structure. An affiliate serves on the national Board and three national Directors are community leaders elected by the Boards of Directors in client co-ops.
“ROC USA is co-op-like and focused on the long-term success of networked Resident Owned Communities, each and every one of them,” says Paul Bradley, President of ROC USA®. Learn more at rocusa.org .