For years now, Contact Denver7 has told you about out-of-state investors buying mobile home parks and immediately raising rents. Now, a community in Golden is taking matters into their own hands.
They are buying back their property, in part, thanks in part to some help from the City of Golden.
Pat Martinek has been fighting to stay in her home at Golden Hills Mobile Home Park, even after lot rents doubled in less than two years.
"We're just trying to find ways to make it affordable for us. Because we've already lost quite a few because they couldn't afford even the previous rent increases," Martinek told Contact Denver7.
The Golden Hills Mobile Home Park was bought in November 2021 by Harmony Communities, an out-of-state investor that has since raised lot rents twice. It has forced residents on fixed incomes, such as Gordon Gumble, to make tough choices.
"It means that my Social Security doesn't quite cover everything anymore," said Gumble. "And I've had to cut back on food I eat. I can't live as high on the hog as I used to."
Residents at Golden Hills have formed a co-op, with the goal of buying the park themselves. However, three previous offers have fallen through.
A fourth offer has been accepted and is expected to close by the end of July, according to Harmony Communities.
Tim Townsend is with Thistle ROC, a nonprofit helping mobile home parks transition from private owners to resident-owned communities (ROCs). He said Golden Hills could be a model for other communities facing steep rent increases.
"What we typically see is that a buyer comes in and starts a rent increase if they can," said Townsend. "Those rent increases have displaced families, and our goal with forming more residential communities is to avoid that displacement and start creating more of an affordable housing option, long-term."
In a statement to Contact Denver7, a Harmony Community spokesperson wrote, "This opportunity is a win/win, and we couldn't be happier for everyone involved."
But there is a catch. If the residents buy the property, rents will go up again.
"They do need additional funding at this point to keep those rents affordable as the purchase goes forward," said Laura Weinberg, the mayor of Golden.
The city has already committed to investing $1 million to aid in the residents' purchase of the property, but city staff is now recommending an additional $1 million toward the loan to limit the increase in rent.
The mayor is hoping other agencies will step up to help residents with affordable housing funds.
"I do know it is a priority," said Weinberg. "I also know that we hope to continue conversations with Jefferson County, who also has funding available for housing."
Residents are worried about the possibility of another rent increase, but are hopeful the purchase will bring stability and a sense of security.
"We're very hopeful, and the City of Golden has been wonderful. We hope that can continue," said Martinek.
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