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Mobile home park purchase is a done deal

Residents own the property, as the labyrinthine transaction closed Friday.

The residents of Islander Mobile Home Park often describe the last six months as a roller-coaster ride.

Yesterday, their ride ended.

“I feel exhilarated. I feel stunned,” said Bill Isley, who has helped lead his neighbors toward owning their homes. “It’s been a race, its been a battle, its been a roller-coaster. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m glad it’s over.”

The park has long served as a stable rock of low-cost living in a sea of swelling island land values.Set between Madison and Eriksen avenues, only a short walk to City Hall and the heart of Winslow, residents knew the days of paying under $400 a month in rent were limited.

While the cost of owning their homes will increase monthly payments, residents expect to pay about $700 a month.

Isley said an emergency bank loan saved the day, with not a day to spare.

“If it weren’t for American Marine Bank, we would have lost by one day,” Isley said.

The loan covers residents’ payment until their primary loan comes through next week.

“Woohooo!” said Kelly Samson, minutes after the deal was set. “Yes, we are closed.”

Samson formed a partnership with residents to purchase the park after residents rejected a purchase proposal from the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority. Residents preferred the uncertain road toward home ownership to the KCCHA’s plan to redevelop the park into a low-cost, higher-density community.

Samson assumed the purchase option on the entire $5.5 million park, agreeing to buy the property from owner Pat Alderman. Samson proposed purchasing one-fifth of the property to reduce costs for residents and to allow residents to raise funds to buy the majority of the property for 50 homes.

Samson’s decision to bring in backup investors stunned some residents. They were surprised to learn their homes were slated to pass to the investor group when they failed to meet a Sept. 20 payment deadline.

Residents produced an extra $850,000 to buy out Samson’s backup investors – with financial assistance from Samson himself – in mid-October. That further strained the efforts of residents in securing loans, but their struggles ended Friday.

“I’ve been doing nothing else for the last 20 days,” said Norm Down, who with Ed Kushner helped line up financing for residents and mediate discussions between the various parties. “In any given 24 hours, the deal’s been cold dead and then up and running. We’ve all been on a roller-coaster with many emotional swings.”

Residents drew support from numerous islanders, including a group of investors affectionately called “angels,” anonymous community investors who helped purchase shares in the property for residents.

The City Council also stepped in to help residents, voting Wednesday to purchase seven units in what will be narrowed to a 50-space park, for park residents with the lowest incomes.

Park residents also became quick studies on home financing and real estate law while navigating the process of forming a housing cooperative. Besides supporters who trudged through valleys of paperwork and endured days of white-knuckle negotiations, Isley said much had to do with luck.

“When things came apart, something else somehow popped up,” Isley said. “This was meant to be...it just wasn’t easy. As someone once said, ‘the slender threads of synchronicity were at play.’”

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