Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park Update
By Cameron Herrington (Living Cully, 503-489-8334) and Gabe Triplett (St. Charles Church, 541-680-6509)
In addition to this update, you might want to check out this recent Portland Tribune article about the Oak Leaf.
1. CASA has pulled out of the project
The non-profit organization CASA of Oregon worked with the Oak Leaf residents for several months to establish a residents’ cooperative and prepare that cooperative to take ownership of the park. On the residents’ behalf, CASA was also working with the City of Portland and Multnomah County to secure the funds needed to acquire the park and make repairs and upgrades.
In early October, CASA notified the City and the residents that it was pulling out of the project. This decision was made due to the complex restrictions placed on the City’s funds, and the fact that the City was asking CASA to secure an outside loan to buy the park until the City’s funds are available in a few months.
2. City of Portland, Living Cully, and St. Charles Church are still committed to saving the Oak Leaf
Even though CASA is no longer involved, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has reconfirmed his pledge of $1.5 million to purchase the Oak Leaf and keep it open as affordable housing for the current residents. The Portland Housing Bureau is working to make this happen.
However, without the support of CASA, the Housing Bureau is not willing to provide the $1.5 million to the resident-owned cooperative. This is because CASA is the only organization in the state of Oregon that has experience setting up and supporting resident-owned cooperatives at manufactured housing communities. Without that support, the Housing Bureau does not have enough assurance that a cooperative would be successful.
Therefore, the new plan is for another non-profit organization to buy the Oak Leaf and manage it. The current residents would be able to continue living at Oak Leaf.
3. St. Vincent de Paul steps up
After learning that CASA had backed out of the Oak Leaf, the Housing Bureau entered into talks with St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County (SVDP). SVDP has preserved five mobile home parks in the Eugene area, and operates them as affordable housing. These parks are similar to the Oak Leaf: some residents own their own mobile home and rent a space from SVDP; others rent both their home and the space.
SVDP staff members have visited the Oak Leaf and met with residents, and feel confident that their organization can preserve and upgrade the park. This week, SVDP’s board of directors agreed to move forward with the project.
4. Interim owner
The funds that the Housing Bureau will use to buy the Oak Leaf won’t be available until February or March. In addition, these funds cannot be provided to an organization that already owns the Oak Leaf – they have to be used to purchase the Oak Leaf. This is a problem because we can’t wait until February or March to purchase the Oak Leaf. We only have until the end of November. That’s when the purchase contract expires and the current owner could sell it to someone else.
This means that a different organization (not SVDP) must buy the park now and own the property for a few months until the city’s funds are available. At that point (February or March), the Housing Bureau would give the $1.5 million to St. Vincent de Paul in order to purchase the Oak Leaf from the interim owner.
Living Cully has agreed to play this interim ownership role. Living Cully does not have the money needed to buy the Oak Leaf, so the Housing Bureau will use a different pot of money to give Living Cully a loan to buy the park. Living Cully will own the park for a few months until the permanent funds are available, and then sell it to St. Vincent de Paul.
Here’s how everything would work, if all goes according to plan:
November: The Housing Bureau will give Living Cully a loan to buy the Oak Leaf. This must happen before November 29, which is when the purchase contract with the seller (Van Tran) expires.
December: St. Vincent de Paul will begin managing the Oak Leaf, but Living Cully will be the owner of the property. The current residents will stay in their homes!
February or March: The Housing Bureau will give St. Vincent de Paul $1.5 million to buy the Oak Leaf from Living Cully (the interim owner), and to make repairs and upgrades. Living Cully will use the money it gets from St. Vincent de Paul to repay its loan.
Ongoing: Living Cully, St. Charles Church, St. Vincent de Paul, and the residents will work together to raise money for additional repairs, upgrades and new mobile homes.