US PRICE program to raise funds for resident-owned mobile home parks

Advocates say a little-known bill to the U.S. Senate could make it easier for people living in mobile home parks to pay for improvements to their community’s infrastructure while playing a bigger role in their financial security.

The $500 million Community Enhancement Conservation and Reinvestment (PRICE) program will provide grants to resident-owned manufactured home parks to pay for improvements and services. Funding is also available to cooperatives, nonprofits, local and state governments, lenders, and other housing agencies; and can support acquisitions, including resident purchases.

Joe Cicirelli, director of the Housing Cooperative Development Institute, called the move a “game changer”. The nonprofit helped convert a manufactured housing park into a cooperative.

Success Story: Private investors are buying mobile home parks. The Wareham residents fought back.

“The residents are just starting to catch up, the policies are just starting to catch up, and we’re really just trying to level the playing field,” Ciscirelli said.

According to the development agency, the program will affect 3,500 nonprofit or cooperative households and provide the possibility of residential ownership for 20,000 Massachusetts home-making households.

Aerial view looking west from Pocasset Mobile Home Park, February 2020.

How does the PRICE program become a “game changer”?

The bill comes amid a national trend of private equity firms and real estate investment trusts buying up mobile home communities and then increasing rents.

Low-interest government-backed loans worth billions of dollars have fueled the buying frenzy.

Under Massachusetts’ right of first refusal statute, residents have the opportunity to submit matching bids and purchase their neighborhoods themselves. But they don’t have access to these grants or low-cost loans, making it difficult for them to compete fairly with private companies.

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