The residents of Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Park in Rockland and residents of Sunset Acres Mobile Home Park in Thomaston recently secured funding support from the Genesis Community Loan Fund in Brunswick, Camden National Bank in Camden, and Maine State Housing Authority (Maine Housing) in Augusta, to become the 7th and 8th Resident Owned Communities in Maine. Aided in their purchase acquisition by assistance from the Cooperative Development Institute under the NEROC (New England Resident Owned Communities) program, the residents have engaged in extensive training and organizational development. Jessica Pooley, Cooperative Development Specialist of the NEROC Program in Maine, said “These residents have worked hard for the past several months in negotiations and dealt with some difficult obstacles along the way. They are going to be great resident owners.” Andy Danforth, Director of NEROC, stated “We are proud to assist in the process and in operating their community going forward. Sunset Acres and Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Cooperatives are now among over 170 proud ROC USA cooperatives throughout the country.” Prior owners Alan and Marion Sewall initiated the conversion of the parks to resident ownership when Alan Sewall contacted Jessica Pooley last August. “Alan and Marion are looking ahead to retirement, and felt turning the communities over to the residents who lived in them was the best outcome for everyone.” Pooley said.
The Sunset Terrace Mobile Home Cooperative is home to 74 resident owners and Sunset Acres is home to 22. Both communities are anxious to get started on some needed repairs and taking over regular maintenance of their communities. Resident and Sunset Terrace board president, George Krise said early on in the process, “When we own the park, we can make decisions about how things are done and that will be better for our community.”
Sunset Terrace and Sunset Acres join six other Maine communities under the technical assistance of CDI, Brunswick Bay Mobile Home Cooperative, Medomak Mobile Home Cooperative in Waldoboro, Deer Ridge Mobile Home Cooperative in Augusta, Pemaquid Villas Mobile Home Cooperative in Bristol, Wardtown Mobile Home Cooperative in Freeport and the Greystone Mobile Home Cooperative in Veazie. The Genesis Community Loan Fund has provided financing for all eight projects. Bill Floyd, Director at the Genesis Fund said “We feel a true partnership with the Cooperative Development Institute in the conversion of these communities to resident-ownership. It is always very exciting to be involved in assisting people in gaining ownership of the land their homes sit on and preserving affordability into the future, and now the folks of Sunset Terrace and Sunset Acres get to enjoy it too.” Said Jane Sturk, Portfolio Loan Originator at Maine Housing, “We really love the idea of manufactured housing communities becoming cooperatively owned and preserving affordable housing. Maine Housing is working to develop an ongoing program for financing cooperatively owned mobile home parks, and we believe these parks, which are a form of affordable housing, will be one component of sustainable housing for low and moderate income families in both rural and high cost communities throughout the state. Having CDI’s commitment to act as advisor for a minimum of 10 years is what we believe makes them a sound financial investment and assures the success of these co-ops.”
With the conversions of these communities to cooperatives, they are also now the newest members of RONA (Resident Owned Neighborhoods Association) of Maine. As members, they will be part of an organization focused on their growth and development during networking events with the other resident-owned communities in Maine. RONA President, Dale Whitmore, who is also a resident member of the Wardtown Mobile Home Cooperative in Freeport says “We are looking forward to meeting our newest members to RONA and sharing our knowledge and resources with them as they embark on this challenging and rewarding adventure in cooperative living.”