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With New Housing Co-op, Minnesota Community Now Resident-Owners

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The residents of a manufactured housing community in Fairmont, Minnesota, last month joined the ranks of about 1,000 other such communities around the country by purchasing their community.

Resident-members of Five Lakes Cooperative worked together to form a Minnesota cooperative corporation, an entity owned and controlled by its homeowner members. Cooperative members, represented in day-to-day decision-making by an elected Board of Directors, will run the 94-site community for their mutual benefit. This new resident-owned community is the latest such cooperative among many emerging across the Upper Midwest.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said Kendall Gray, interim president of the Five Lakes Cooperative. “As a group, we’re committed to owning and managing our community successfully. There are so many people who live in this community with so much to contribute, we’re so happy to have taken this step of taking control.”

NCF supported residents’ efforts to organize a new cooperative corporation, provided governance support and training, supported the housing cooperative’s transaction-related due diligence, and helped the co-op secure financing from a national lender specializing in such transactions. NCF is a ROC USA┬« Certified Technical Assistance Provider (CTAP), a member of a professional network of nonprofit organizations performing this kind of community development activity nationwide. NCF works with seven resident-owned cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin, communities whose conversion has permanently preserved 456 homes as affordable housing.

“Five Lakes Cooperative residents have better secured their futures by taking over ownership and control of their community,” said NCF Executive Director Warren Kramer. “The cooperative will operate the community at cost, residents now have a direct voice in their community’s policymaking and, perhaps most importantly, these folks will enjoy the pride and security that comes with ownership. In short, resident ownership will deliver important social and economic benefits to these community members.”

As an integral part of the cooperative purchase program, like its counterparts, Five Lakes Cooperative will continue to receive long-term technical assistance and governance support from NCF. ROC USA┬« is a national non-profit that exists to make resident ownership possible nationwide. Since ROC USA’s inception in May 2008, CTAPs like NCF have facilitated 71 resident purchases in 14 states, representing more than $164 million in financing.

Financing for Five Lakes Cooperative was provided by ROC USA Capital.

“The Five Lakes Cooperative worked really hard to meet the seller’s timing. They maintained a very quick transactional pace to accomplish this purchase,” said Michael Sloss, ROC USA Capital’s managing director. “ROC USA Capital is pleased to have provided $1.7 million in community acquisition/permanent financing to this Co-op.”

The cooperative’s members are planning a community-wide celebration in 2015.

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