Opt-in program will enable residents of Ocean Bay Apartments to add rent payments to credit histories, Helping Establish or Boost Credit Scores

Stringer’s second “Making Rent Count” pilot brings total number eligible units to over 2,000 citywide

Ocean Bay pilot targets scores in the City’s most credit challenged community, with the lowest median score in New York City

(New York, NY) — New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today announced a new pilot program designed to allow residents of Ocean Bay Apartments in the Far Rockaways the option of making their monthly rent payments count toward their credit scores, just like mortgage payments do for homeowners. Last fall, Comptroller Stringer released an analysis which showed how allowing residents of the 1,400 units within Ocean Bay apartments to get credit for their rental payments would boost credits scores and grant new scores to scoreless individuals – thereby helping members of the community secure better, consumer-friendly rates for financial products, insurance, car loans, cell phone bills and more.

In collaboration with community partners and service providers, including Enterprise Community Partners, Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation, Catholic Charities, Urban Upbound, MDG Design + Construction, the Ocean Bay property managers, Wavecrest Management, and Councilmember Donovan Richards, the program will be offered to every tenant named on an Ocean Bay lease. The program aims to help lift credit scores in the zip code (11692) with the single lowest median credit score in New York City – an anemic 578.

“New Yorkers don’t think of their credit score as just a number. Instead, it’s the car loan they can’t get, the cell phone bill which is too expensive to pay, or the apartment they didn’t qualify for,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Thanks to this program and the work of our partners, residents of Ocean Bay can take control of their credit. Our pilot will help raise scores in a corner of the city that has been denied access to credit and it will ease the strain on New Yorkers burdened by our affordability crisis. This is a common sense initiative that will make it a little easier to make it in our city.”

“Good credit is a powerful resource. The Rent to Build Credit program enables Ocean Bay residents to use housing as a platform for opportunity and invest in their financial future,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise was proud to develop the pilot alongside the RAD Collaborative, the Comptroller’s Office, Urban Upbound, Wavecrest Management and the Tenants’ Association, and we hope it can serve as a model for other communities seeking ways to support and empower residents.”

“Good credit is crucial to financial stability,” said Sheldon Peters, Director of Project Management offered by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens at Ocean Bay. “We are proud to join Ocean Bay CDC, Wavecrest Management, the Comptrollers’ Office, Enterprise, and the TA Board to bring ‘Rent to Build’ to Ocean Bay tenants. This program will not only strengthen tenant’s credit standing, it will enrich the lives of individuals and families, and promote a stronger Ocean Bay community.”

“RDC Development LLC, as developers of the site, along with Wavecrest Management, the property manager, are thrilled to bring this innovative program to our residents at Ocean Bay. Our vision for Ocean Bay was for not only physically rehabilitating the property, but to bring opportunity, access and an increase in the quality of life for our residents.  We feel that “Making Rent Count” is an example of those opportunities that we can offer.  We are extremely excited to partner with Comptroller Stringer in this initiative.  We consider this an amenity for our residents and are thankful to Enterprise Community Partners for bringing this to our attention and applaud the Comptroller’s efforts!” said Susan Camerata, The Wavecrest Management.

“This program is the epitome of what public housing represents,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “You’re really giving people a fighting chance for the American dream by allowing them to start building credit or improve their score. There’s so much you can’t do without a decent credit score. This is really something that the residents deserve and I’m happy to see it being rolled out at Ocean Bay.”

As part of the program, residents of Ocean Bay will be able to draw on individual and group credit counselling and financial education offered by Urban Upbound, a Queens based credit union. These services will allow residents to make informed choices about their participation in the program and to better seize control of their credit profile.

The benefits of incorporating rent payment information into credit files are detailed in the Comptroller’s October 2017, “Making Rent Count” report which the Comptroller’s Office studied a representative sample of city tenants paying rents under $2,000 and found that reporting rent history would:

  • Raise credit scores for 76 percent of New York City renters who currently hold a credit score. Specifically:
       

    • More than half (57%) would see their score rise between 1 and 10 points;
    • Nearly one in five (19%) would have their score boosted by 11 points or more;
    • 18 percent would see no change at all;
    • Just 6 percent would see a decline in their scores.
  • Provide nearly 30 percent of renters with a credit score for the first time. The average new score for these mostly low-income renters – now categorized as “invisible” or “unscorable” because of the relative dearth of financial information in their credit files — would be a prime score of 700.

The Ocean Bay program is the second pilot launched as part of the Comptroller’s “Making Rent Count” initiative, which aims to develop rent reporting programs across the five boroughs. In February, the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association gave more than 600 tenants across 27 buildings in the south Bronx the option of adding rent information to their credit scores. Comptroller Stringer is working with Enterprise Community Partners to develop more pilot programs over the coming year to demonstrate how rent reporting programs can benefit local communities.

To read the announcement of NYC’s first pilot “Making Rent Count” program, click here.

To read the Comptroller’s “Making Rent Count” report, click here.

 

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