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Mobile home residents are mitigating displacement with an innovative housing solution — and major benefits are cropping up

It takes planning, financing, and dedication.

It takes planning, financing, and dedication.

Photo Credit: Lakeville Village

Imagine owning your home but not the land beneath it. For 20 million Americans living in mobile home parks, that's a daily reality that leads to rising rents, poor living conditions, and the threat of displacement.

But what if residents banded together to buy the land under their homes?

That's exactly what a growing number of mobile homeowners are doing — and it's helping them save money while also fighting atmospheric pollution.

Over the past two decades, the number of mobile homes in resident-owned communities (ROCs) has skyrocketed from just 200 in 2000 to over 15,000 in 2019, according to Grist. When residents collectively own land, they're empowered to make vital upgrades to their homes and communities.

One of the most impactful upgrades? Installing renewable energy like solar panels.

As Kevin Jones, director at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, explains, "There's nothing more perfect than these resident-owned communities because they already have a cooperative structure and, generally, commonly own the piece of land.

"[They] are just kind of natural communities to be able to bring the benefits of solar to more low- to moderate-income people."

We're already seeing the benefits in places like Lakeville Village in upstate New York, where a resident-owned community of 50 homes now powers itself with solar. For the residents, who are mostly grandparents, going solar was about leaving a brighter future for their grandkids.

And it's not just about renewables — ROCs are also more resilient in the face of climate disasters.

In Pasadena Trails, Texas, a resident-owned community made infrastructure upgrades that helped them weather the devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey better than surrounding areas. Owning their land allowed them to be proactive.

The path to resident ownership isn't always easy. It takes planning, financing, and dedication. But with the support of nonprofits like ROC USA, which helps communities form co-ops and access resources, more and more mobile homeowners are taking control of their futures.

These co-ops are largely concentrated in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, thanks to favorable state policies and resources. But as word spreads about the benefits, the model is gaining traction nationwide.

For low and middle-income Americans, resident-owned communities offer a rare opportunity: a chance to build equity and stability in an increasingly out-of-reach housing market while also living lighter on the planet.

By coming together to own the land under their homes, these pioneering resident-owners aren't just finding housing security — they're building more sustainable and resilient communities for themselves and generations to come.

Now that's a win-win we can all get behind.

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