Build equity while you rent

Renters around the country are financially and physically vulnerable. While half of them pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent, according to the Center for American Progress, they have nothing to show for it on the other end compared to homeowners, who build equity as they pay down their mortgages. Renting Partnerships gives Cincinnati renters a third option: Build equity through social capital. In exchange for fulfilling commitments in an equity lease agreement—like work assignments on the property, timely payment of rent, and participating in resident meetings—renters earn financial credits. Money saved by low turnover is invested in a financial fund. After five years, renters can exchange credits for cash. Renters can earn a maximum of $10,000 over 10 years. While Renting Partnerships has been a stand-alone nonprofit since 2012, its equity experiment stretches back to 2002—enough time to see how this model provides renters with greater control over housing conditions and inspires them to engage more with their community. Landlords benefit from property improvements and high occupancy, and the City of Cincinnati welcomes more stable residents into full civic participation. And the movement is spreading. This summer, a version of the program tailored for local artists launched in Cleveland.