On July 1, the more than 130 renters in the Gladstone Mobile Home Park became owners.
Park tenants paid Lowell Read, the property owner since 1956, $8.75 million for the nearly 12-acre site. New renters in the park for residents 55 and older pay $580 a month in rent, and some people who have been there longer pay as little as $530. That rent includes water, garbage and sewer services.
"The rents have remained the same after the purchase, and our intent is to keep them the same as long as we can," said Kim Baller, a member of the new resident-owned cooperative.
To secure the financing needed to buy their community, the mobile-home residents worked with Community And Shelter Assistance Corp (CASA of Oregon), which is a member of the ROC USA network. ROC USA and its affiliate, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, are nonprofits with over 25 years of experience combining technical assistance with purchase financing for resident cooperative corporations.
"It is important for organizations like CASA and ROC to do this important work of preserving housing for low-income people in the Portland area," Baller said. "A lot of working people aren't able to live in the Portland metro area like they used to."
Although they have a park manager, the park is run primarily by residents. They will need to get permanent financing in three years and are hoping to secure grants. The residents-turned-owners hired an engineer to develop a 20-year plan of necessary repairs.
"A lot of our capital projects are determined by our lender, NOAH," Baller said. "We're trying to see if we can get a grant to pay for our failing water system. It's going to take us at least a year to be functioning well, and a lot of the improvements will be done by volunteers who live in the park."
On Saturday, July 29, the permanent board went to a training in Salem on how to run the park in a financially sound way.