Landmark Acquisition: Fresno County’s First Resident-Owned Mobile Home Park Marks New Era in Community Ownership

On Feb. 29, 2024, the residents of Comunidad Nuevo Lago (CNL), formally known as Shady Lakes Mobile Home Park, closed escrow on the cooperative’s purchase of their community from an investor-owner.  This resident purchase marks the first Resident Owned Community (“ROC”) in Fresno County under the California Center for Cooperative Development (CCCD)’s CaliROC housing program, and the second overall in the state since the program’s inception in 2020.

CCCD is a statewide non-profit and a Certified Technical Assistance Provider (“CTAP”) of ROC USA, a national organization whose mission is to make resident ownership viable nationwide and to expand economic opportunities for homeowners in manufactured home communities. For the last three years, CCCD staff and residents of CNL worked alongside each other to organize as a cooperative and seek out subsidies and other creative financing to make a seemingly impossible resident-purchase possible. Other non-profits, Rural Legal Assistance of Fresno (CRLA) and the law clinic of UC Irvine also provide invaluable support to the project.

The resident-purchase of Comunidad Nuevo Lago would not have been possible without state funding. The goal was not just to assist the residents to purchase their community but to keep it affordable. For the last three years, CCCD proactively sought out public grants and other creative financing strategies to make it happen and was ultimately able to secure funding from two state programs: the Manufactured Housing Opportunity & Revitalization Program (MORE) and the Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program. These programs provided $4.5 million and $3.25 million, respectively, in addition to a bridge loan from ROC USA Capital.

Residents were thrilled to learn that not only were there no rent increases because of the purchase, the cooperative was able to lower monthly rents from $690 to $520 for members; non-members remain at $690. The numbers are even more impressive when compared to the current housing market in Fresno County, where the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,249 per month.

Asucena Gonzalez and Pedro Vasquez, who have been living in the community for 20 years, shared that they “feel really joyful that their home can’t get taken away” and about the peace of mind they now have knowing that the threat of constant rent increases is no more.

The success of Comunidad Nuevo Lago highlights the remarkable power of cooperation but also the importance of state funding to protect manufactured home park residents against corporate interests and preserve affordability in these communities.