I have lived in Mountainside Community Co-op for six years and serve as our board president. Mountainside is a beautiful resident-owned manufactured housing community that provides a rare opportunity here in Camden: affordable housing for seniors to age in place. 

I am writing to urge Sen. Susan Collins, as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to support what is known as the PRICE program. This program would make a drastic difference to the lives of 500 Mainers who live in resident-owned communities and 20,000 residents who live in manufactured or mobile homes around our state.  

Mountainside became a resident-owned community in 2019 when the former owner wanted to pass the property on to the people who knew it best: the residents. My neighbors and I now democratically determine our rents and invest in the infrastructure of our community. Because we are collectively owned, the community cannot be repeatedly sold to private buyers and instead remains permanently affordable. As a co-op we are protected from the rent gouging, neglect and disinvestment that are common with corporate landlords. 

PRICE is a $500 million grant program for resident-owned communities and nonprofit manufactured housing communities. It would provide funds to support critical infrastructure improvements and resident purchases. The House Appropriations Committee voted to include PRICE in the 2023 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill.

As negotiations finalize, I urge legislators on both sides of the aisle to recognize the dire need for low-barrier and low-cost grants and loans for manufactured housing communities. Manufactured housing is one of the last remaining sources of unsubsidized affordable housing and is an increasingly popular option for low- and middle-income homeowners including young families and seniors. A vote for PRICE is a vote for this important solution to the nation’s housing crisis.  

We are seniors on fixed incomes trying to do all we can to ensure our community is healthy and safe. As a resident-owned community, we determine our lot rents based on operating expenses and re-invests profit back into necessary neighborhood upgrades. Across the country, communities like ours are more likely than privately owned manufactured housing communities to address infrastructure needs because these projects – such as tree maintenance, road repair, water and septic – have impacts on our health and daily lives.  

Since purchasing our community, we have diligently addressed infrastructure issues like paving projects and upgrading our well-water system. We achieve a remarkable amount with shared resources, especially given that 64% of my neighbors make less than 80% of the area median income. But more projects remain. For example, our sewage system is fragile. We pump all sewage into a 26,000-gallon holding tank, which is hauled out multiple times daily to the town wastewater site. We have spent over $36,000 for a septic hauler and to the town and have invested over $10,000 in our hauling truck which is now on its last legs. We urgently need to connect with the municipal wastewater system, but the project is a massive endeavor. Grants from a program like PRICE could help move this necessary, timesensitive and environmentally consequential project forward.  

Conventional homeowners and private companies have access to government-backed loans and grants for purchase and upgrades. Resident-owned communities and manufactured housing communities deserve the same investment as all other homeowners. There are 10 resident-owned communities in Maine with their own unique needs, all competing for the same existing funding. Many more manufactured housing communities would have the opportunity to convert to resident-ownership and ensure permanent affordability should a lifeline like PRICE materialize.  

Clean water, environmentally conscious waste removal, safe roads and utility lines are human needs. I ask you to join me in urging Sen. Collins to include PRICE in the THUD funding bill. This program will be a game changer for communities like ours across Maine and the country. Passing PRICE is an investment that policymakers across party lines must make today.  

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