GOLDEN, Colo. — When Contact Denver7 last checked in with the residents at the Golden Hills Mobile Home Park, they were taking matters into their own hands and buying back the park from an out-of-state company.
Residents said after two major rent increases, neighbors had to leave and it was a real challenge for the residents who stayed.
"When I bought this place, the lot rent was $525. Then when Harmony came in and bought it, it went up to $795. Then last year, it went up to $995," said Sally Burton.
Golden mobile home residents to buy park from out-of-state investors
After the rent increases, she and other neighbors began the journey to become a resident-owned community. They also had support from Thistle, an organization that help communities make offers to buy their property and navigate the transition.
"The offer was not accepted at first, but they kept going. They did not give up. Now, a few offers later, they own it," said Tim Townsend, resident-owned community (ROC) program director at Thistle.
The new community board said it wouldn't have been possible without help from the City of Golden, who allocated $2 million in a loan agreement to support the co-op purchase.
Residents do have one more rent increase coming.
"To cover the amount of the loan, but it's a very slight increase compared to what it could be. Then we'll maintain it. There will not be any more increases unless something major catastrophic happens," said Burton, who is now the operations manager for the community's new board.
It's the type of community control they hope inspires other residents who are at the mercy of out-of-state-investors.
"This community, being resident owned, will now be able to review [their budget] every year, know where their rents are going, know what it's going for. That's a huge piece that a lot of communities don't get, and having that gives them more of the power to make decisions," said Townsend.
The board plans to update roads, sewer and water systems.
Harmony Communities, the California-based previous property owners, said in a statement it was "happy to have been a part of this process."
"We are happy to have been a part of this process. It was an absolute joy to work with Thistle and we couldn’t be happier for the residents. We are leaving a turnkey community in their hands after all of the upgrades and improvements we were able to complete over the past two years. We look forward to watching this community’s continued growth."
"Hopefully others will fight like we did to take their lives and control their futures," said Burton.