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Having good credit saves people money. It gives them lower interest rates on loans and credit cards and helps make large purchases possible. Many times at Avesta we see people apply for apartments and have absolutely no credit on file. This may be someone who is new to this country or someone who has rented apartments their entire life and has had no reason to take out a loan. This thin credit file prevents them from renting from some landlords or even buying a home in the future.
Avesta Housing has recently teamed up with Experian Rent Bureau to begin reporting positive rent payments to Experian credit bureau. By reporting positive rent payments that people are already making, it helps build their credit by creating a tradeline and showing positive payments. This is a no brainer for us — if you make rent payments on time, why shouldn’t you get credit for it?
In a study by Experian with a sample size of 20,000 subsidized renters, it was found that 95% saw their credit score increase or no change, and at least 53% of the study participants saw an increase of 11 points or more. Most people migrated to less risky credit profiles, leading to potentially lower credit card interest rates. After reporting positive rent payments 97% of these residents were now considered prime or non prime, and most of the “previously no-hit residents transitioned to prime risk segment category.”
Avesta Housing is the first affordable housing provider to offer this service through Experian Rent Bureau in Maine. We’re excited to provide this service to our residents. Helping build and improve credit for people living in affordable housing will lead to financial stability and new opportunities; it will also help residents save money for the future.
By Travis Heynen, Director of Housing & Services
Travis has worked in Avesta’s Property Management division since 2011. In his current role, he focuses on resident needs and satisfaction, data collection/usage, and new tools and resources. Travis is a champion of low-income people and their quest to achieve financial stability through affordable housing and residents services. A data mastermind and a stickler for detail, Travis uses his keen analytic skills to design effective programs that improve the lives of Avesta residents.
For Immediate Release
September 19, 2018
Contact: Sara Olson, Director of Development & Communications
Cell: 207-317-3914 | Email: SOlson@AvestaHousing.org
Avesta Housing Named One of 2018 Best Places to Work in Maine
PORTLAND, ME – Avesta Housing, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Portland, Maine, was recently named as one of the 2018 Best Places to Work in Maine. The awards program was created in 2006 and is a project of the Society for Human Resource Management – Maine State Council (MESHRM) and Best Companies Group. Partners endorsing the program include: Mainebiz, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Department of Labor, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and Maine HR Convention.
This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Maine, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses. The 2018 Best Places to Work in Maine list is made up of 75 companies in three size categories: small (15-49 U.S. employees), medium (50-249 U.S. employees) and large (250+ U.S. employees).
To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
– Have at least 15 employees working in Maine;
– Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity;
– Be a publicly or privately held business;
– Have a facility in the state of Maine; and
– Must be in business a minimum of 1 year.
Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Maine. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Maine and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.
Founded in 1972, Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider focusing on advocacy, development, property management, senior/assisted living, and homeownership. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Maine and currently has 87 properties, 2,400 apartments, and two assisted-living facilities in its portfolio.
In line with one of Avesta’s Core Values, Humanity: We Care About People, Avesta Housing strives to create strong teams, meaningful career growth, and outstanding work environments. In the past year, Avesta improved an already-robust benefits package. Expansion of benefits included industry-leading paid parental leave and an increase in paid time off for all staff. These benefit improvements and others were made based on the research and recommendations of a staff-led committee.
Cutline: Avesta Housing employees Sarah Thurston and Lucy Cayard visit an affordable housing property under construction in Portland, Maine in 2016. Avesta Housing was recently named a 2018 Best Places to Work in Maine.
About Avesta Housing
Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider with over 40 years of experience as a leader in affordable housing development and property management in southern Maine and New Hampshire. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Maine and currently has more than 80 properties and 2,400 apartments in its portfolio. Avesta’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes for people in need. Its five areas of focus are advocacy, development, property management, senior and assisted living, and home ownership. www.AvestaHousing.org
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My mother always said that bragging is impolite, so please don’t tell her this, but I have found myself bragging to my friends and neighbors on multiple occasions about my company’s benefits. We may not have a company gym or café like some large for-profit businesses, but our benefits are strong and progressive and focused on improving the lives of our employees. They’re also employee-driven. Last year a staff-led committee studied our benefits and drilled other employees on what they really want, and it resulted in major additions and improvements to an already-robust benefits package. So, when I’m standing at a cocktail party or walking my dog in my neighborhood, I keep stumbling into this conversation about how I work at a nonprofit organization that cares about its employees and is willing to offer a benefits package that makes us feel it. And while my colleagues and I could surely debate at length about which benefits are the best, here’s my top 7 list:
Yeah, that’s right. Paid parental leave. This is one that bubbled up from the staff-led benefits committee last year. We know how important it is to support men and women who are transitioning a new child into their home. It’s a feel-good benefit, for sure, but it’s also smart business. We need our staff to take the time off they need without the financial and emotional burden of going unpaid for weeks at a time so they will come back to us ready to roll. I do a mental standing ovation every time I think about this amazing benefit.
#2 GENEROUS PAID TIME OFF
And speaking of taking the time you need to refresh and recover… we all need a little of that to stay happy and sane and be our best selves at home and at work. So when our benefits committee reached out to staff last year, we heard a resounding “more paid time off.” Employees earn different levels of time off based on their years of service, but new employees have about six weeks paid time off every year and folks who have been with us for eight years or more are getting about eight weeks paid time off. That’s some serious time to reboot!
#3 MATCHING 401K
This is one of those benefits that the less fiscally savvy among us may overlook, but is a big deal when it comes to the bottom line. Avesta matches 100% of my contributions to my 401k up to 6% of my salary. All eligible employees can enroll after six months of employment and are full and immediately vested. Free money? Yes, please and thank you. I’m still a far cry from retirement, but it’s nice to think I might feasibly be able to do it some day!
#4 FREE PARKING ON THE PENINSULA
Free parking? Really? Yes! Really! If you don’t work on the Portland peninsula, you may not get this one right away, but stay with me. Many of my fellow Portland workers are paying to park in garages each day. Not me! And while it’s great to be able to park at work without paying, it’s even better to be able to go out to eat and attend shows in town without ever having to search or pay for parking. And based on the number of cars I see in the lot on nights and weekends, I know my colleagues love this perk, too.
#5 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THAT GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND
Back to business. While time off, money, and parking are all great, so is being able to advance my career on the company dime. Avesta is fanatical about professional development. A training manager is on staff to support individual and team needs. Mandatory and optional trainings abound; post-secondary course work is funded. And to help push people to the next level in their careers, Avesta has a unique six-month leadership program that provides higher level training in management, communication, and finances. There’s nowhere to go but up!
All work and no play makes EVERYONE a dull person! Thankfully, Avesta has a culture of comradery. Our teamwork at the office translates to team fun outside the office. I regularly attend fun company-hosted events throughout the year. From company softball games, mini golf, and running clubs to potlucks, costume contests, and trivia contests, I’m glad to be able to work hard and play hard with my colleagues.
#7 CUSTOMIZED WORK STATIONS
I’ll be honest, I’ve worked at a lot of places, and no one has ever asked me how I would like my desk and office arranged. Standing or sitting desk? Desk over here or over there? Need any ergonomic enhancements? And while this benefit may seem silly to some, you only have to walk around our offices to see how incredibly diverse people’s preferences are in this area. Why not set people up optimally so they can do the best work for you? (And it’s standing desk next to the window for me, in case you’re wondering.)
BONUS: FREE FRUIT & COFFEE/TEA
And since every list needs a bonus, why not mention the free fruit, coffee, and tea in the office? This definitely falls in the category of little perks that make this gal happy. Not to mention the money I save not hitting the coffee shop on my way to work!
Some of these benefits are big and important while others are minor but surprisingly meaningful. Sometimes it really is the little things that matter. And while Avesta doesn’t pretend to compete with the big for-profits out there, I’m so lucky to be a part of a nonprofit with a mission to improve lives and strengthen communities and a focus on the people who make that mission happen every day. So there it is… the seven benefits I brag about to my friends. Don’t tell Mom!
Sara started at Avesta Housing in 2015 and oversees Avesta’s communications, public relations, and grants. In addition to her official role, she is a passionate advocate for the Oxford Comma and a strong voice for providing great food at staff meetings and social events.
307 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
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