A victory for residents in Durango shows the high stakes in purchasing a mobile home park

Considering the housing prices in the area, it is easy to understand where Gallardo Loya is coming from. Durango, Colorado is home to more than 19,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimate. Despite being more than a six-hour drive away from the mega-competitive housing market in Denver, the community of Durango is facing its own affordable housing crisis.

La Plata County is in a housing inventory crunch, according to the Durango Area Association of Realtors. Between 2021 and 2022, median home prices increased by $100,000 to $612,000.

Lisa Bluequist knows this problem well. As the Executive Director of HomesFund, she helps people buy homes in Durango.

“We’re trying to get people out of that gap because labor wages are down here and housing prices are down here and we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Bluequist explained.

She often advises homeowners to buy mobile homes.

“They still get price stability, they still get a roof over their heads, they still get to paint the walls whatever color they want,” Bluequist said.

The median home price for a mobile home in Durango is $70,000, less than eight times the median price of a single-family home. But mobile home owners in Durango face a dilemma when their parks come up for sale.

Buying a Westside Mobile Home Park

When the Westside Mobile Home Park went up for sale in late 2021, Stefka Fanci with the Elevation Community Land Trust asked park residents if they could purchase the elevation on behalf of the park.

“Our price for the mobile home park was to match the offer of the corporation that was trying to buy it,” she explained at the time.

On March 15, the landlord rejected a $5.56 million offer to buy the Westside Mobile Home Park, but the park owner didn’t close the door entirely. The owner provided a list of reasons why the other offer was strong and motivated residents to make a second offer.

During the same week of the negotiations, Gallardo Loya began to feel ill.

“I want the owner to touch his heart and realize that this is not just about money. We are real families who want our dreams to come true” she said in March.

Soon his wish came true.

The residents’ second offer was accepted and the Elevation Community Land Trust entered into a contract to purchase the land. When Fanchi told the residents that the sellers had accepted their request, the residents He clapped, he was worried, he cried tears of joy And they kissed their children in relief.

“I couldn’t be happier for the residents of Westside and the opportunity to dream with them,” Fanci said.

With the sale, Westside Mobile Home Park becomes the fourth park in the state to sell to residents since the 2020 law allows residents to purchase their land.

According to a recent report by Rocky Mountain PBS, the difference between mobile home parks owned by residents and parks owned by private companies can be vast. For example, he was able to make a resident-owned park in Longmont. Lower rents and help residents save money During the epidemic. The golden ones are the people who live in the Golden Hills Mobile Home Park. Regarding rent increase And after a private company bought the park, “a full list of such regulations”.

Private investors are purchasing mobile home parks at a higher rate than in previous years. “Driven by some of the strongest returns in real estate, investors are shaking up a once-sleepy sector that is home to more than 22 million mostly low-income Americans in 43,000 communities.” Michael Casey and Carolyn Thompson It was recently reported For the Associated Press. “Many advertise the parks as ensuring permanent returns – by raising rents over and over again.”

According to the same AP report, 20% of mobile home lots nationwide have been purchased by institutional investors in the past eight years. Residents on the Westside were more than happy to avoid that fate.

Sonia Gutierrez is a multimedia reporter with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can find her on soniagutirrez@rmpbs.org.

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