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It is Friday -- Let's Spotlight Something Unusual

Adam R.'s picture

Posted April 4, 2008

Maybe because this blog would like a break from sisyphean Federal comments and things like that, it is time to go out and offer praise for some good work that made a difference.

One partnership between Thistle Community Housing, a nonprofit group in Boulder, and their City's Department of Housing and Human Services (HHS) saved 135 homes. While fifteen homes in the park are market-rate, the rest are kept at affordable costs. All of the units are mobile homes. The neighborhood is not in a downtrodden part of Boulder, either, but in one of its more pricy areas.

One of the interesting things about Mapleton Mobile Home Park, the name of the park operated through residents and Thistle, is that it co-opts the use of tiered pricing to achieve goals of a mixed income community. Some of the homes, for example, list that buyers must meet strict income qualifications. Some homes are designated for buyers at incomes as low as 30 percent of area median income. Other homes in the park have no price restrictions at all.


Zillow estimates that lots in this park are each worth more than $200,000. Of course, with the price structure set in place by the non-profit, that figure is an abstraction. Still, it speaks to the price of the neighborhood, the underlying value of the land, and the comps of some of the past sales. It also rejects the idea that manufactured housing "ruins" a neighborhood. Since each lot is only about 0.02 acres, that means that land used as a mobile home park in Boulder is priced in the market at about $8.8 million per acre. I mean, give or take a million, but who is counting?
Getting the agreements in place to save the park took 9 years of negotiations, according to Thistle Community Housing.

Thistle's work in affordable housing in Boulder and Adams Counties, Colorado began in 1989.  The nonprofit has worked as a developer of housing since the 90s.  They also manage a sizable rental portfolio.

At Mapleton, there were some challenges with flooding. One of the pictures, below, shows a channel that handles excess stormwater runoff.


Thistle has done a few other interesting things. One is putting insulation wraps on a few of the homes to improve energy efficiency.

Last, the park also has some strict standards. This is a community with rules. If every park was run like this, the perception of mobile home communities would be very different.

Thistle leases the park to the residents, but in many ways, it lets the residents run the show. There is a nonprofit board that sets the rules for the park. It is led by the residents. An independent property management company is also utilized.