Golden Hills becomes first resident-owned mobile home park in Jeffco

Residents excited to preserve affordable housing, control their own futures

Corinne Westeman
Posted 7/14/23

After a two-year journey with lots of ups and downs, Golden Hills residents now own their mobile home park.

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Golden Hills becomes first resident-owned mobile home park in Jeffco

Residents excited to preserve affordable housing, control their own futures


After a two-year journey with lots of ups and downs, Golden Hills residents now own their mobile home park.

On July 11, the Golden Hills Mobile Home Park co-op and its partners closed on an $8.5 million deal to buy the property from California-based operator Harmony Communities, which has owned it since late 2021.

Golden Hills is now the first resident-owned community, or ROC, among Jefferson County’s mobile home parks.

“We will have control of our own destinies,” 20-year resident Art Erwin said.

Joyce Tanner, co-op president, emphasized how this wouldn’t have been possible without her fellow residents and co-op board members, and their nonprofit and government partners.

“There were times when I didn’t know if we’d ever get to this day,” she continued, “and here it is.”

The City of Golden, in partnership with Jeffco, contributed $2 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the purchase. City Manager Scott Vargo explained how it’s a forgivable loan, and the city will only receive accrued interest or repayment if the property goes into default or is sold.

While Jeffco couldn’t contribute directly because of financial complications, it de-obligated the city from paying $1 million for a separate project, Vargo explained. That allowed Golden to contribute $2 million in ARPA funds instead of the initial $1 million it committed in Jan. 2022.

“It was a creative effort by both (governments) … to support affordable housing within the community,” he continued.

Additionally, Tanner said local nonprofits Golden United and Thistle — both champions for affordable housing — were crucial in helping Golden Hills become resident-owned.

According to Tim Townsend, Thistle’s ROC program director, lending partner ROC USA Capital assembled the loan package, including the remaining $6.5 million. Golden Hills must pay back the full amount, which includes a $1.1 million construction loan with 2.5% interest.

Residents and co-op board members Valerie Dillon and Will Gregg see it as a worthy investment in their community’s future.

Both are first-time homeowners at Golden Hills, and they pay rent on their respective lots. Despite the name, their homes aren’t mobile. So, if lot rents go too high, people will be priced out of homes they own.

Thus, as an ROC, residents will have greater long-term housing security, Dillon and Gregg described.

Because 90% of Golden Hills household incomes are at or below 80% of area median income, Mayor Laura Weinberg stressed how important it is to preserve “naturally occurring affordable housing.”

As community members have discussed, mobile home parks are the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing, with many residents on fixed incomes like seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.

“This kind of collaboration, hard work, and love of community across multiple partners is what Golden is all about,” Weinberg said in a July 11 city press release.

The two-year journey

In early 2021, Golden Hills was owned by Blue Sky Communities, which Tanner described as more of a mom-and-pop-style owner. Lot rents for most residents were about $525-$600 a month.

In spring 2021, residents received notice that Blue Sky intended to sell the community, and as Tanner described, "No one knew what was happening."

Golden United volunteers connected them with Thistle, which set them on the ROC path. Most residents formed the co-op, which then made two offers to Blue Sky. However, it sold the park to Harmony Communities in late 2021.

Tanner said the co-op made an offer to Harmony soon after, but “things didn’t work out.”

Lot rents went up to $795 a month in Feb. 2022, and then to $995 a month in Feb. 2023.

Then, Harmony informed the residents it'd received an offer, but the co-op wasn’t in “opportunity to purchase” mode, Tanner stated. So, it got back to work again with Thistle, and put together another offer — its fourth overall.

This time, it was accepted.

With the deal signed and finalized this month, residents are celebrating becoming Jeffco’s first ROC.

Being resident-owned now, lot rents will stabilize, and residents will make decisions on their own park, Tanner described. They've also established community rules and bylaws. Residents can join the co-op if they wish, but it’s not mandatory.

While it was a long and difficult journey, residents felt the community had become stronger for it. Neighbors came together for a common good, and friendships blossomed among residents who never really knew each other before, the co-op board members described.

The work ahead

The residents can’t rest on their laurels, though, as there’s plenty of work to do.

During the pre-development engineering surveys, the co-op found the property had more than $1 million in infrastructure needs, such as replacing sewer and gas lines. While those costs were included in the overall loan package, it will impact lot rents going forward, Tanner explained.

Between that, the offer the co-op was competing against, the overall costs of the real estate, lot rents will go up again in February. Tanner said it’ll be a little under $1,100 a month.

However, the co-op members voted unanimously to go ahead with the purchase, knowing lot rents would be impacted, at least initially. In fact, Tanner said it would’ve been worse if Golden and Jeffco hadn’t helped.

The residents won’t be alone as Thistle stays on as a coach and support system for the next 10 years, Townsend explained. The nonprofit will help Golden Hills review its financials and “stay on track,” especially through this first year, he said.

Townsend added how Golden Hills is Thistle’s eighth ROC in Colorado, with a ninth expected later this summer. He hoped Golden Hills would become a model for other communities that want to become ROCs.

Reflecting on the last two years, the co-op board members said there are numerous individuals and groups to thank for all their support. Along with the aforementioned ones, they highlighted state legislators who passed protections for mobile home park residents.

“Seeing the different people who have supported us throughout this (process) has been heartwarming and amazing,” Tanner continued. “ … This is finally coming to fruition … where we can live with housing security.”

golden, colorado, golden hills, mobile, home, park, ROC, resident-owned, community, purchase, own, city of golden, jefferson county, jeffco, affordable housing, golden united, thistle, roc usa capital, loan, lending


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