Life is hard enough as it is, but it’s even more difficult if you’re poor and have a bad credit score. We deal with people living in affordable housing who often are struggling to establish themselves or get back on their feet following financial hardship. We help them do this by sharing data with Experian RentBureau®. Sharing data is a great way to help people living in affordable housing build their credit history in the same way a homeowner does by paying his or her mortgage every month. A credit score is one of the most important assets a person can have because it can determine the cost of utilities and insurance, and provide access to credit. For our residents, it’s an important first step to move forward with their lives.
If residents are making timely payments, they should have the same credit-history-building benefits a homeowner would have with his or her mortgage payment. Rental payments should be reported to Experian RentBureau. It is the biggest payment most residents make every month, and it’s the most important because it’s for their home.
When we first learned about reporting rental payments to Experian RentBureau, we thought it would be a great way to use credit-history building as a carrot to attract residents to our financial-education program. It bridged the gap that had been an obstacle for 10 years. We had been asking people to come to classes with our advisors, and they just wouldn’t come. With Experian RentBureau rent reporting, 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.”
When we offered rent reporting as an option, we went from having little resident participation to having roughly 60 residents sign up for our educational workshops and opting in to have their payments reported to Experian RentBureau. Now, some of them have opened up individual development accounts, and they’re starting to catch some of the breaks that they’ve been waiting for. Rather than being knocked back into the hole, someone’s holding the ladder and making sure it’s safe for them to climb out.
Maybe a resident’s goal is to open a checking account or get a low-interest loan for a car or reliable transportation to get to work. For many people, finances are so tight and difficult that they just navigate their way through it and don’t have the time to sit down and dissect it to find out what they can save. They’re just happy to get by from day to day. If residents can build their credit history through Experian RentBureau, it’s a reason for them to come into our office. We can give them the tools they need for a successful financial plan, whether it’s setting goals or managing credit moving forward.