What is a coop?
A co-op (or coop) as in a “cooperatively owned entity” is one in which everyone involved in the entity is also an owner. Companies can be coops (like REI, Ocean Spray, and Welch’s), but so can neighbors who have a collective stake in their communities and who want to build a better neighborhood.
Residents of mobile home parks have been forming coops over the years, inspired by heartbreaking and heartwarming stories about landlords who raise lot rents so high that people are left homeless, and neighbors banding together to collectively purchase and run their parks. Just last week, VTDigger published a story about 4 mobile home parks converted into resident-owned coops. This 1986 LA Times article about a group of tenants who banded together to buy their home from their landlords is especially empowering, because their actions created a whole new category of government loans.
Mobile homes (and by extension, many RVs– with the exception of $250,000+ class A’s) are often the last option for affordable home ownership for people from all walks of life. But while we might own our RV or mobile home, we’re still at the mercy of landlords: park owners and managers who can raise rates however they like. There are many wonderful and reputable park owners out there, but there are enough exceptions to the rule to create a crisis that needs addressing.
Forming a coop provides stability to residents in traditionally unstable housing situations. Read about the residents of Duvall Riverside Village, who formed their coop in 2012 after years of concern over the long-term instability of their park.
Power in Numbers
According to a 2017 article from Nonprofit Quarterly, “An estimated 17.5 million Americans live in manufactured housing, or about 9 million households. By contrast, only 1.1 million households in the United States are in public housing, and only about 4.5 million households receive any form of government housing subsidy at all. In other words, manufactured housing as a sector is twice as large as all federal housing assistance programs combined.”
There is power in numbers. Banding together and forming a coop is a powerful way to control not only the cost of housing, but what is done with the funds. The National Association for Cooperative Housing has a great summary of cooperative principles and values:
- social responsibility
- caring for others
Why an RV coop?
RV coops are a great option for RVers who are interested in having a “home base,” with the freedom to travel when they wish. When you’re traveling, some parks will allow you the option of adding your space to the rental pool, as a means of generating income for the park, and decreasing your yearly financial dues as a coop member.
Escapees’ list of SKP coop parks is an awesome place to start browsing. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many of them, and only a small fraction allow residents of all ages (most are for those over age 55).
I would love to see Escapees assist in the creation of new coop parks, but I would be even happier to see groups of individuals banding together and creating a new generation of RV coop parks.