Golden Hills -- THEY OWN IT!
Updated: Sep 28
Our neighbors at the Golden Hills Manufactured Home Community just became a resident owned community (ROC)! The Golden Hills Community Cooperative, Inc. is the first ROC in Jefferson County and the eighth ROC in our state. As a ROC, they can have stable affordable housing, raise their families, and age in place.
Golden's Mayor Laura Weinberg at the "We Own It!" celebration.
Golden Hills becomes the Golden Hills Community Cooperative, Inc.
Resident Owned Community.
What is a ROC? In a resident owned community (ROC), households are a member of the self-governing Cooperative, which owns the land and manages the business that is the community. Members continue to own their own homes individually and an equal share of the land beneath the entire neighborhood. The community has control of monthly lot rents, which are reinvested into the community. In ROCs, lot rents stabilize over time compared to for-profit lot rents. Members have lifetime security against unfair eviction and are not personally liable for association loans. Going forward, Thistle ROC will provide technical assistance to the Golden Hills Community Cooperative, Inc. for at least ten years, and the Cooperative will hire a professional management company. Golden Hills joins over 300 ROCs across the nation that are associated with ROC USA, which has a 100% success rate (with the single exception of a senior community that transitioned to a local housing authority).
Golden Hills is nestled in a neighborhood in North Golden. There are 40 homes with a collection of hard-working young families and individuals, small business owners, caregivers, older adults, and folks on fixed incomes. The home owners had unsuccessfully tried three times before to buy their park to become a ROC. The fourth time was the charm!
Here's the Backstory:
In April of 2021, residents of the Golden Hills Manufactured Home Community—some of whom had lived there for decades—were told that their park was being sold to an out-of-state corporation. The home owners formed a cooperative and went through the process of trying to buy their park to become a ROC. They had a roller coaster ride of ups and downs (see news articles below), and several non-profit organizations, individuals, and elected representatives lent their assistance. Sadly their attempts were unsuccessful, and in mid-November 2021 the out-of-state corporation took ownership of their park. The new corporate owner raised the lot rents by 50%+ for most home owners, effective February 2022, with another rent increase scheduled for February 2023. These large lot rent increases are burdensome for most residents, especially those on fixed incomes who do not have a way to make up for these increases. The City of Golden arranged for some rental assistance opportunities for the residents, but this was a short-term six-month solution to prevent displacement, and the assistance mostly ended in mid/late 2022.
A few months ago the out-of-state corporate owner gave the Golden Hills home owners the opportunity to match an offer and purchase their park to become a ROC. The Golden Hills home-owner cooperative worked with Thistle ROC and ROC USA on financing the purchase.
The City of Golden, in partnership with Jefferson County, contributed $2 million as a forgivable loan from some of the funding they had received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The City worked with Jefferson County on an innovative agreement that de-obligated the City from paying $1 million on a different project. These contributions to the financing helped stabilize rents in the park. Without these contributions, rents were projected to be as much as $300 more per month.
The Big Picture:
In most manufactured home communities, the residents own their homes but pay rent on the land (aka, lots) underneath their homes. These lot rents are in addition to paying for mortgages, home maintenance, and upkeep. Often, their homes aren't "mobile”, so residents are stuck where they are, which makes them economically vulnerable. Monthly lot rent in the Golden area is $1,000+. In comparison, the average 2023 Social Security benefit is about $1,830 per month and the maximum disability (Supplemental Security Income - SSI) payment is about $900 per month for an eligible individual.
Over the past four years, there have been several statewide laws enacted that provide protections and opportunities for manufactured home communities. Also, funding to assist with ROCs has been appropriated from statewide American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies and through the Proposition 123 ballot measure. Golden Hills has helped forge the path for many more future ROCs in Jeffco and in Colorado.
News Articles Featuring Golden Hills:
New York Times:
Videos Featuring Golden Hills:
Rocky Mountain PBS:
These stories are part of a series about mobile homes in Colorado, "Colorado Voices: Sold, The Land Under Mobile Homes"