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How BH improved the credit scores of 6,400+ renters to an average of 671 points in only 4 months

Background

BH (livebh.com) is a multifamily owner and operator founded in 1993, managing more than 100,000 units and 330 properties across the United States. The company’s mission is to create spaces where people live and thrive, with a focus on providing renters with the latest innovations in residential living.

The company is committed to being a good corporate citizen, recognizing that it can become a better business when it invests in its residents and team members. Since October 2017, BH’s environmental impact efforts have resulted in reduced water usage of 36%, saving 2.2 billion gallons of water. It also offers amenities that contribute to healthy lifestyles, like free libraries and fitness classes. BH placed #8 on the NMHC Top Managers list, and #22 on the Top Owners list.

Challenge

BH is committed to doing business the right way, and in 2021 the team wanted to evolve its ESG (environmental, social, and governance) tools and tactics. As they looked for innovative solutions in ESG, there were two requirements: Any tool they were to bring had to be good for business and good for BH residents and their overall living experience. BH had found a great partner that helped the company approach its environmental impact, from reducing water usage to implementing energy-saving appliances. Next up was finding a partner in social impact with a shared goal of providing a better future for residents.

BH recognized that there were residents who were struggling to pay rent, as well as others who were looking to make their rent go further. From there, the search was on to find a service that helped residents stay in their homes, while also supporting the overall promise of “living more.”

Solution

In December 2021, BH piloted its first property in Esusu’s rent reporting service to help residents establish and build their credit scores over time. Residents also gained access to Esusu Rent Relief, a 0% interest rent stability loan program for those who needed rental financial support. Through January and February, BH added 42 properties to the program.

 

“Find services that act as opportunities to better the lives of your residents.” 

When it came to deciding which initiatives the BH team would roll out to further improve residents’ living experience, rent reporting became a clearer and clearer answer. The team wanted a social impact solution that would help residents improve their overall financial wellbeing. 

“Rent is one of the highest monthly bills that a resident has on a recurring basis,” explained Christi Weinstein, VP of Strategic Support initiatives at BH. “The idea that there’s no reward to residents for paying rent on time didn’t sit well with us, and wasn’t great for business either.”

Through conversations with Esusu, Weinstein and the BH team found that they would be able to create a true win-win scenario for both residents and the company through rent reporting:

  • Providing residents with a way to build positive credit was the right thing to do, and answered their company mission.
  • Residents were more satisfied – something they were already doing was helping them build credit and wealth.
  • Incentivizing residents to pay on time was the best way to ensure on-timepayments and positive NOI.
  • Most importantly, when needed, residents were able to get the rental assistance support they needed to stay in their homes. 

After learning about Esusu’s mission of dismantling barriers to housing for working families, rent reporting was the perfect solution, explained Joanna Zabriskie, CEO & President at BH. 

“In Esusu, we found a service that improves resident credit scores – often a significant barrier to renting an apartment, buying a car or home,” said Zabriskie. “Our residents, by making on-time rental payments, can build a healthier financial future. At BH, we are focused on doing the right thing for our residents, and Esusu is a good fit for us.”

From implementation to understanding the data

According to the BH team, when someone has a great idea, they collaborate to bring it to life so that residents see results quickly. 

When it came time to implement Esusu into BH’s tech stack, there was no time to waste. BH uses both Yardi and Entrata as its property management platforms, both of which integrate directly with Esusu’s rent reporting platform. The Esusu engineering team worked with BH’s team to first pilot rent reporting at a single property, Towne Oaks South in Shreveport, LA. Once Towne Oaks South’s residents were having their rent reported, Esusu was rolled out across the rest of the properties in the program. 

Integration with existing property management systems was one of the main factors in choosing Esusu for BH. Once rent reporting is set up, there is no work for the property managers to report rent – a huge advantage for a company with thousands of renters across the country.

BH chose to provide Esusu at no cost to its residents, offering it as an opt-out solution. This meant residents would be enrolled with Esusu automatically unless they chose to decline. 

“We had a lot of discussion around whether to choose an opt-in or an opt-out model,” explained Weinstein. “Ultimately, we chose to go with opt-out because we wanted to reduce any friction renters might experience. Our jobs are to make their living experience easier.” 

The BH team describes themselves and the company as “data-heavy” when it comes to decision-making. Though rent reporting typically takes several months to show its impact, BH residents have already started to see a positive impact. 

In only four months, more than 6,400 BH residents in the Esusu program are seeing improvements to their credit scores. 1.1% of BH residents have moved from the lower credit tiers (under 660, categorized as “Poor” and “Fair”) to the upper credit tiers (661 and above, categorized as “Good” and “Excellent”). 101 residents have now established credit scores for the first time, giving them access to things like car leases and home mortgages.  

BH will move to roll out Esusu to more properties over 2022. Esusu has already started reporting on-time rent payments from up to 12 months prior, and that allowed many residents to quickly see an improvement in their credit scores.

“To immediately benefit from that 12-month look back is so important for residents,” explained Weinstein. “It’s only going to get better and we’re so excited to continue to see the impact that rent reporting has on the credit scores and overall financial wellbeing of our residents.”

Results

56%

of enrolled residents have improved their credit scores in the first 4 months

101

credit scores have been established for the first time

671

average credit score (well within the “Good” tier of credit)