Daily Democrat, October 16, 2018

SACRAMENTO — Mutual Housing California’s pilot “Maximizing Your Credit” program has been named as a recipient of one of this year’s Housing Innovation Awards given out by the Sacramento Housing Alliance.

Due to financial support provided by CitiBank, Mutual Housing rolled out the program last year at its Moore Village, Greenway, and Glen Ellen communities —giving south Sacramento and Davis residents the option to have their on-time rent payments reported to two major credit bureaus and the chance to build their credit history and improve their credit scores. This program allows renters to enjoy the same kind of credit-related benefits that homeowners routinely receive from their lending institutions.

Mutual Housing also operates a low-income housing development in the Spring Lake area of Woodland, which has been lauded for its environmental and energy-saving capabilities.

“This is a very innovative program that gives residents of affordable housing communities who are renters a chance to build and establish credit and to increase their credit scores,” said Mutual Housing Community Development Director Anne Marie Flynn. “Renters historically have not been able to take advantage of the fact that they have made monthly on-time rental payments for years.”

Mutual Housing community organizer Alexandra Alvarado and Citi Vice President and Community Development Manager, Mary Hogarty, accepted the award on behalf of the organization on Monday at the Fourth Annual Sacramento Housing Alliance Housing Summit at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Two other organizations also received the awards for their innovations in providing and expanding affordable housing opportunities for low-income people.

They were Mercy Housing for its Esperanza Crossing Phase 2 community in Esparto, and Jamboree Housing for its preservation of more than 100 single-room occupancy apartments at the Hotel Berry in downtown Sacramento.

Some 75 Mutual Housing residents are currently enrolled in the Maximize Your Credit program. The program reports community members’ on-time rent payments to two major credit bureaus. Initial data shows an average increase of 17 points in credit scores after just two months in the program. As a result of program participation eight Mutual Housing residents have been established credit history for the first time.

Besides improving residents’ credit standing, the Maximizing Your Credit program also helps residents find and understand their credit scores and what goes into making them up. Prior to the program, 40 percent of the enrollees did not know how to check their credit report and 63.5% did not know their credit score. Some residents have even learned how to dispute billing errors or other mistakes entered against them by financial institutions and have had them removed from their credit records. The program also has assisted residents in managing their finances and helping them to identity theft and fraud.

“Paired with financial education and coaching, this program is putting people on the path to financial stability, with a goal of helping them to build their families’ assets, qualify for credit, and pay lower interest rates,” Flynn said. “It has been so successful that our hope is to expand it to additional Mutual Housing communities.”

Founded in 1988, Mutual Housing California develops, operates and advocates for sustainable housing for the diversity of the region’s households. More than 3,600 people – nearly half of them children – live in Mutual Housing communities. Mutual Housing is a member of NeighborWorks America, a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that supports community development nationwide.