Credit education efforts taking hold at apartment communities

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[etm_menu width=”0″ aligment=”aligncenter” display=”0″ flag=”0″ layout=”3″ ]Source: Multifamily Insider
Credit education efforts taking hold at apartment communities ~

There’s no sugarcoating it: Obtaining credit with a low credit score or an insufficient credit history can be tough. A low score can hamstring people’s ability to obtain a mortgage, car loan or credit card — and subject them to higher interest rates and large security deposits for utility services and rental homes.

But a low credit score doesn’t have to last forever. Financial education has proven to be a powerful boon to people’s credit history. Across the nation, apartment communities — especially those in the affordable housing sector — are providing financial literacy programs to give their residents a brighter future. 

Communities offering these programs have found that simply offering classes is often not enough to persuade residents to participate. It’s only when the communities give residents the option to have their rental payment history reported to credit bureaus that interest in the financial literacy programs usually takes off.

For example, officials with the New Hampshire-based Affordable Housing, Education and Development Inc. (AHEAD), which owns and manages more than 400 affordable housing units, report that resident participation in the organization’s financial education classes was miniscule for a decade before AHEAD began offering to report rental history to credit bureaus.

Once residents learned that they could build their credit history by having their rental payment history reported, their interest in working to improve their financial standing overall spiked.

“We had been asking people to come to classes with our advisors, and they just wouldn’t come,” said Matthew Manning, director of the Homeownership Center for AHEAD. “We can now say, ‘Hey, let’s talk about your credit. Let’s get our head out of the sand, take it on full speed, and see what we can do to create more financial independence and stability moving forward.’”

Indeed, “rent reporting is a promising strategy for affordable housing providers seeking to increase resident participation and success in financial coaching and asset building programs,” concludes the Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) in its The Power of Rent Reporting Pilot: A Credit Building Strategy white paper, which summarizes the organization’s efforts to support eight affordable housing providers implementing rent reporting on behalf of approximately 1,250 residents.

“Pilot groups consistently reported the integration of rent reporting outreach and education into existing financial coaching and asset building programs as an efficient and effective strategy for engaging residents in credit building and helping them translate credit improvements into progress toward other financial goals,” CBA adds.

Apartment owners and operators can be highly effective, caring allies in their residents’ efforts to create a better financial future for themselves and their families. In order to enhance that partnership, sometimes a little reporting is in order.

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