One of the state's oldest advocacy and assistance organizations is adding shelter to its efforts care for the area's homeless.

Crossroads Urban Center has been named one of nine certified technical assistance providers joining a new national affordable housing network.

ROC USA, based in Concord, N.H., has granted Crossroads $50,000 to help make its $8 million nationwide effort to make resident ownership of lower-cost manufactured home communities more viable.

The Utah Resident-Owned Communities Project (UROC) will provide pre- and post-purchase technical assistance and training to help homeowners in Salt Lake County and through the state buy their communities and secure their financial footing through outright ownership rather than leases or renting.

According to Crossroads, approximately 80,000 Utahns are residents of about 2,500 prefab modular or mobile home communities in the state. The communities have traditionally been largely unsubsidized by government programs, said UROC director Mark Lundgren.

"With values increasing throughout the state, and development and speculation pressure building, we have lost more than 13 manufactured housing communities since 2002," he said, "resulting in a reduction of the range of affordability available in our communities and a permanent loss of hundreds of home ownership opportunities for Utahns."

The new program, along with the national association and other homeless reduction efforts, will expand the capacity to serve Utahns, stabilize and preserve communities, expand affordable housing choices and also help change the manufactured housing industry.

"The combination should help transform the manufactured housing industry to make the purchase of a manufactured home a more viable appreciating household home investment," Lundgren said.

Residents who own their homes but not the site where they are located can form a membership association to purchase their community or park when the property becomes available for sale.

The effort also got an assist from state lawmakers, who in March approved HB 48, legislation that would regulate the way mobile home parks are sold or closed.

The sponsor, Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake, said it added necessary but previously unavailable rights to mobile home owners. It requires park owners to give a nine-month notice for lease termination and prevents them from raising rents in the meantime. It also prevents local governments from passing ordinances to close the parks.

Paul Bradley, founding president of ROC USA, said Crossroads was included among the nine agencies nationwide because "it shared a deep commitment to preserving this important source of affordable housing for the 3.5 million homeowners in America — most of them working families and retirees."

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