The Patrician, located at 3530 E. Game Farm Road in Springfield. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

SPRINGFIELD –  After two years dreading the eventual loss of their homes, Patrician Mobile Home Park is now a “resident-owned community.” 

In 2019, Patrician Mobile Home Park residents gathered at multiple public hearings with the Springfield Planning Commission and City Council to try and stop the rezoning and proposed redevelopment of their community. Despite their best efforts, the land underneath their homes was rezoned, and the elderly homeowners were left knowing they would soon have to move and be given $8,000 for their homes. They were devastated.

While homeowners searched for new affordable housing options and dreaded formal news of the community’s closure, they were dealt another surprise in late February of this year: their community was for sale. They immediately began working with CASA of Oregon who helped the residents incorporate and make an offer.

The homeowners in the Patrician, a 55+ community of 82 homes that sit just 10 minutes from downtown Eugene, formed Filbert Grove Cooperative and purchased the land and infrastructure for $12 million on Thursday afternoon.  

“We worked really fast and got it done,” said Filbert Grove Board Vice President Jo Manning, who credits the team at CASA of Oregon for their diligence and expertise throughout the process in saving their community. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve packed and unpacked over the last year. But now we get to run it, and we’ve got a lot of knowledge under our belts thanks to CASA.”

Financing for the resident owned community (ROC) was provided by Network of Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH) and Community And Shelter Assistance (CASA) of Oregon.

In many manufactured home communities, residents own their homes but not the land beneath them. This makes homeowners vulnerable to rent increases and eviction, especially when ownership of the land changes. By purchasing the property, homeowners are empowered to make major decisions as a unified community. On average, resident-owned communities raise site fees less than 25 percent of the industry average.

CASA of Oregon coached the residents of Filbert Grove through the purchase process and will continue to provide technical assistance to the co-op for at least the length of the purchase loan.

Shawn Rodine, Real Estate and Cooperative Development Technical Assistance Manager at CASA of Oregon said the leaders of the new co-op have spent the purchase process focused on learning more about their neighborhood and skills to manage the multi-million-dollar business moving forward.

“The Board along with many of the residents have worked long and hard to keep themselves and their neighbors in their homes,” said Rodine. “They just wouldn't give up. Now, their efforts have paid off with the peace of mind and security that comes with resident ownership. It's been truly inspiring to see.”

CASA of Oregon is a ROC USA Certified Technical Assistance Provider. ROC USA launched in 2008 to take the decades of successful work by the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund to national scale. Founding President Paul Bradley said the work has remained singularly focused since the beginning –making resident ownership viable nationwide through a system of integrated financing and technical assistance. Filbert Grove Cooperative becomes the 278th resident-owned community nationwide, and the 20th in the state of Oregon.

“I am so inspired by the determination of the Members of Filbert Grove Cooperative,” said Bradley. “Through hard work, organizing, and cooperative ownership, they have secured their homes as permanently affordable and protected in perpetuity.”

In a resident-owned community, homeowners each buy one low-cost share and become members of the co-op, with one vote per household on matters of the community. They elect a Board of Directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote on larger matters like the annual budget, bylaws and community rules.