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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Frustrated residents could form cooperative

By Anthony Kuipers Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Mobile home residents around Moscow who are frustrated with their new leases and increased rents can form a cooperative intended to give them better negotiating power with their new landowner.

Residents from Abiel Community, Appaloosa Community, Palouse Hills Community and Woodland Heights Community were invited to attend an information meeting about cooperatives Tuesday at the 1912 Center in Moscow.

These mobile home communities were recently purchased by Hurst & Son LLC, a privately owned investment, property management and construction company. If they sign the new lease, residents face lot rent increases of up to 55% that could drive them from their homes. Residents are also concerned about new rules in the lease they say are unfair and overreaching.

University of Idaho sociology professor Leontina Hormel said residents have expressed to her that the new lease from Hurst & Son feels like “outright theft” and makes them feel vulnerable.

“So many of you are actually the backbone of our local economy and what makes this place a wonderful place to live,” she said.

Hormel and Victoria O’Banion of ROC Northwest organized Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the possibility of residents forming a cooperative. ROC Northwest works with manufactured housing residents to form a cooperative that can eventually purchase their community’s land from its current owner and manage it themselves.

While purchasing their land could take years, forming a cooperative can still benefit the residents in the short-term, O’Banion said.

As part of the cooperative, individual households would become members and each household would count as one vote. Residents elect a board of directors that represent each park and that person is the point of contact to relay information to the park’s residents.

As one collective body, the communities can be in a better position to develop a relationship with the owner, negotiate with the owner, and defend itself in case the owner retaliates, O’Banion said.

If the owner does want to sell, the cooperative can be a buyer and purchase the land with the help of dedicated financing facilitated by ROC Northwest, she said. O’Banion said these cooperatives are attractive to sellers because residents are committed buyers who are less likely to rescind their contracts than other buyers.

To form a cooperative, 51% of the more than 200 households have to vote in favor of it.

During Tuesday’s meeting, O’Banion also recorded questions from the residents regarding their new leases, what rights they have as tenants, and whether Hurst & Son legally provided them with an early enough notice about their new leases and rent hikes.

University of Idaho Community Law Clinic will have access to these questions as well as Intermountain Fair Housing Council, a nonprofit based in Boise that advocates for fair housing practices.

O’Banion created a website specifically for residents in Abiel, Appaloosa, Palouse Hills and Woodland Heights at

O’Banion said people will be able to visit this website to vote in favor of the cooperative. It also has links to UI Community Law Clinic, Intermountain Fair Housing Council and Idaho Legal Aid Services. Hormel is working to make sure those without internet access can vote for the cooperative on paper ballots.

O’Banion said the website will also be a place where residents can post messages and stay informed on this issue.

Kuipers can be reached at