In the face of soaring housing costs and the urgent need to combat climate change, a remarkable solution has emerged: mobile home communities joining forces to purchase the land beneath their homes. This collaborative ownership model, known as Resident-Owned Cooperatives (ROCs), has been gaining traction as an effective strategy for both affordable housing and sustainable living.

Rising Trends in Collective Ownership

Recent research reveals a significant growth in the number of mobile homes affiliated with ROCs. Starting with just over 200 in 2000, the count skyrocketed to more than 15,000 by 2019, as reported by a 2022 study conducted by researchers at Berkeley, Cornell, and MIT. This surge in collective ownership presents an opportunity not only for battling housing challenges but also for addressing environmental concerns.

The Green Advantage of Resident-Owned Communities

One of the primary advantages of residents owning the land is the ability to swiftly upgrade infrastructure. This becomes particularly relevant in the context of climate change, where the integration of renewable energy sources, especially solar power, can play a crucial role. Kevin Jones, Director at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law and Graduate School, emphasizes the synergy between resident-owned communities and renewable energy, stating, “There’s nothing more perfect than these resident-owned communities.”

Challenges in Traditional Mobile Home Parks

Traditional mobile home parks, often home to over 22 million Americans, face challenges related to delayed upgrades by private landlords. Residents invest substantial amounts in their homes but remain beholden to park owners for lot rents and additional fees. The situation worsens with the involvement of private equity, resulting in higher rent, utility, and fee increases without corresponding improvements.

Nonprofit Initiatives Paving the Way

Nonprofit organizations like ROCUSA are playing a pivotal role in supporting communities. Offering resources such as low or interest-free loans, grants, and essential planning knowledge, these organizations not only aid individual co-ops but also facilitate networking among co-ops. This collaborative approach proves invaluable in tackling challenges like acquiring permits for solar arrays or identifying reliable contractors for installing sustainable technologies.

Case Studies in Sustainable Living

Ronald Palmer, Board President for Lakeville Village in Geneseo, New York, shares his community’s journey in installing solar panels. The success of this project, operational for over two years, extends beyond the community to benefit local businesses and surrounding areas. Similar success stories, like Pasadena Trails in South Texas addressing chronic flooding, highlight the tangible impact ROCs can have on enhancing resilience and sustainability.

In South Texas, a resident-owned cooperative called Pasadena Trails, located just outside of Houston, found a solution to chronic flooding. The predominantly Latino community installed drainage systems, which helped significantly when Hurricane Harvey hit and drenched the Houston area in 60 inches of rain. In the wake of Harvey, Pasadena Trails fared better in comparison to neighboring areas.

Back in New York state, the residents of Lakeville Village are pleased with their solar project, which reflects the values of the older residents, most of whom are grandparents. For them, this solar project was their way of taking care of their own and ensuring a small step in the right direction for future generations.

Regional Concentration and Access to Resources

The majority of ROCs are concentrated in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, where state-specific resources and favorable solar policies contribute to their prevalence. Organizations like ROC-NH in New Hampshire connect co-ops with state resources, prioritizing the financial stability of members. Sarah Marchant, Vice President of ROC-NH, emphasizes the dual goals of reducing carbon footprints and lowering costs for these communities, especially for those working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Towards a Sustainable Future

While the process of forming a co-op and investing in climate-friendly projects is time-consuming, the benefits are substantial. Residents are not only reducing their environmental impact but also experiencing financial relief. For communities like Lakeville Village, the solar project symbolizes a commitment to future generations, reflecting the values of responsible grandparents who strive to create a better world for their descendants.

This post has been updated to clarify the number of mobile home units attached to resident-owned cooperatives.

Championing Sustainability Through Collective Endeavors

In conclusion, the rise of Resident-Owned Cooperatives signifies a transformative approach to affordable housing and sustainable living. These communities are not merely adapting to change; they are leading the way towards a more equitable, resilient, and environmentally conscious future. As we witness the success stories of these collective endeavors, it becomes clear that empowering communities is not just a choice but a necessity in our journey towards a sustainable future.

With each resident-owned mobile home community, we are witnessing a microcosm of change, where residents actively participate in shaping their destiny. This involvement extends beyond the boundaries of housing, creating a ripple effect that benefits local economies, mitigates climate change impacts, and fosters a sense of community pride.

The Transformative Power of Empowered Communities

Moreover, these communities stand as testaments to the transformative power of empowering individuals. When residents take control of their destinies, they become advocates for change, not only in their immediate surroundings but in the broader societal landscape. The benefits extend beyond financial gains and reduced carbon footprints; they encompass a profound sense of ownership, shared responsibility, and a commitment to leaving a positive legacy for future generations.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the success stories are inspiring, it’s crucial to acknowledge the challenges that resident-owned cooperatives face. The process of forming a co-op and initiating sustainable projects demands dedication, time, and often, overcoming bureaucratic hurdles. However, these challenges are opportunities in disguise. They call for increased support from governmental bodies, streamlined processes, and greater awareness about the benefits of resident-owned cooperatives.

As these communities continue to evolve, the focus should shift towards fostering inclusivity. The success of ROCs in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest should inspire similar initiatives in other regions. Access to state-specific resources and supportive policies should not be limited to certain geographical areas; rather, they should become universal, enabling communities across the nation to embark on a journey towards sustainable living.


In conclusion, resident-owned mobile home communities are crafting a blueprint for sustainable living that transcends the traditional boundaries of homeownership. They showcase the potential for collaboration, resilience, and environmental responsibility. As these communities continue to flourish, their impact extends far beyond the confines of their boundaries, influencing urban planning policies, inspiring similar initiatives, and redefining the narrative around affordable housing and sustainable development.

The journey towards a sustainable future is marked by collective endeavors, and resident-owned cooperatives are at the forefront of this movement. They exemplify the transformative power of empowered communities, proving that when individuals come together with a shared vision, they can create a positive ripple effect that resonates far beyond their immediate surroundings. As we celebrate the success stories of resident-owned cooperatives, let them serve as beacons of hope, guiding us towards a future where sustainable living is not just a choice but a shared responsibility for generations to come.