Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Fire survivors in one southern Oregon community find hope in resident-owned cooperative » Yale Climate Connections

In 2020, fires blazed in southern Oregon. In the communities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, and Medford, more than 2,500 homes were lost — many of them in manufactured home parks.

“It destroyed some of the most affordable housing in our area,” says Erica Ledesma, the founder of Coalición Fortaleza, a nonprofit that’s helping Latino fire survivors secure permanent affordable housing.

She says after the fire, many people had nowhere to go. Some qualified for FEMA assistance. Others did not.

And in most manufactured home parks, rebuilding depends on landlords, investors, and others — leaving residents feeling powerless about their communities’ future.

So Ledesma’s group is partnering with the nonprofit Casa of Oregon to help residents at one park — Talent Mobile Estates — form a resident-owned cooperative.

“It provides collective ownership over the land … but also the future of the park,” she says. “The residents are the ones that get to decide the rules and regulations. They get to decide the rent.”

The goal is to make sure that some of those most harmed by fire have permanent, affordable homes — and the power to help rebuild their community.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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