Maine has more than 600 manufactured housing parks that are home to over 10,000 people, many of them young families, seniors and the disabled. These communities can be threatened when sold to investors, developer-lot rents go up substantially, residents are forced to move or relocate their homes so the buyer can redevelop the property. In many communities, apartment buildings provide the primary source of affordable housing. In some communities, a lack of investment can lead to deteriorating buildings and infrastructure, while in other communities development pressures can push residents out.

Fortunately, I live in a manufactured home park, Pemaquid Villas, that is a resident-owned community. There are only eight parks in Maine that are resident owned. A few years ago when our park came up for sale, we organized our residents with the help of the Cooperative Development Institute, and we were able to purchase the park and convert it into a cooperative.

That means we own it and we govern it. We decide on lot rents and infrastructure improvements. No one can sell the park from underneath us. That provides security in knowing I will have affordable housing now and in the future. Ownership makes all the difference and it has really helped us to build our community. We take care of each other.

In Maine, we need more parks to convert to resident ownership and that’s why I’m encouraging all legislators to support L.D. 1338, An Act to Create and Sustain Jobs through Development of Cooperatives and Employee-owned Businesses. The bill provides straight-forward tax incentives for both the seller and the lender to convert to resident-owned communities or employee-owned businesses. Ownership helps to build a better Maine. It makes all the difference.

Norma Sprague

Pemaquid

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