As the Colorado State Legislative session came to a close this year, two bills to protect and assist mobile home park residents made their way to the finish line.
Co-sponsored by State Rep. Andrew Boesencker, D-Fort Collins, SB22-160 establishes the Mobile Home Park Resident Empowerment Loan Program. It creates a $35 million revolving loan and grant program to provide financing to mobile homeowners seeking to organize and purchase their mobile home parks.
That bill is on its way to the desk of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
But when HB22-1287 passed earlier this year, mobile home park residents thought they garnered an important win.
The bill, also co-sponsored by Boesencker, would protect park residents from unchecked lot rent increases, some as high as 50%. In addition, it also gave them more time to organize and purchase their community in the event a park owner opts to sell.
But last-minute horse-trading at the State Capitol gutted the bill of its core element for the more than 100,000 Coloradoans who live in manufactured housing — the stabilization of lot rent.
Together Colorado is a nonpartisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization that works to place human dignity at Colorado’s center of public life and has helped advocate and lobby for increased protection for mobile home park residents
“We were greatly disappointed when the governor forced us to take lot rent stabilization out of the bill,” said Together Colorado Deputy Director Meghan Carrier. “The legislators — the champions — did the best they could to keep it, they had gotten the votes all set up, so it was ready to pass as it was.”
But even without the rent stabilization piece in the bill, Carrier said the legislation still has value, so compromises had to be made.
“We knew if we couldn’t get the bill over the line, there would be a lot of important protections lost,” Carrier said. “The number one thing for most residents was the lot rent stabilization. However, it’s still a very strong bill—and what this means for us is we’re not done.”
Golden Hills Mobile Home Park resident Heather Malone, who saw her own lot rent increase from $550 per month to $795, has mixed feelings.
“It was discouraging to see it gutted,” said Malone, who serves as vice president of her mobile home park co-op and testified on both pieces of legislation. “Because there’s still a lot of important protections in that bill, it just kinda feels like an empty win.”
Other elements trimmed from the bill include reducing the time residents would have to organize and make an offer to purchase their park, from 180 days to 120.
“The bill, after it passed out of the Senate Committee, had to go to appropriations,” Carrier explained. “There were legislators who wanted a compromise. It was tough to see it go down, but it’s still more than 90 days, which is what the residents currently have.
Carrier said the group also hoped the bill would go into effect immediately after being signed by Governor Polis, but they will have to wait until Oct. 1.
“So it was too much to completely walk away from, considering we weren’t starting with very many protections,” she said. “So that’s why we decided to stick around and made a commitment to our residents that we’re not done fighting.”
As for SB 22-160, Carrier said the bill creates a $35 million revolving loan program to help mobile home park residents with financial and technical assistance should they wish to purchase their community.
“And what’s great is it’s a revolving loan — hopefully in perpetuity — and not just a one-time grant program that will go away in a year,” she said.
“I’m really excited,” Malone said of the new revolving loan program. “Because to come at anything in this real estate market takes strong financial backing.”
Along with Golden Hills Mobile Home Park Co-op President Joyce Tanner, Malone helped organize and lead their community through three attempts to purchase their mobile home park.
She said that powerful financial backing is critical to compete with a growing number of cash offers.
“It makes a huge difference in a lot of cases,” Malone said. “Financial backing is one of the most important items, and having it all come from one place creates a better position for success. When you have to have one part of your financing coming from a grant, another coming from DOLA, and another from ROC (Resident Owned Communities USA), it’s kind of a messy package. When it all comes in a lump sum, it makes it a much stronger offer.”
For Carrier, and many mobile home park residents, there is gratitude for the legislation that has passed, but it is clear their work is not done.
“I don’t want to paint it as a complete loss because there are still some protections for residents moving forward,” Malone concluded. “But while it is discouraging, we’re getting on the right people’s radar, and we’ve got more protections than we’ve ever had before.