February 2023

Bob Simpson, President, Multifamily Impact Council



Ask a lot of leaders in our industry how they got where they are today, and many will tell you about others who helped them along the way. I’m no different. I’ve had the privilege of working with and getting to know many good, talented, and smart people, such as Doug Bibby

Many of you know Doug, who recently ended a 22-year tenure running the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). Multifamily housing underwent many changes and challenges during that time, and through it all, Doug provided a consistent leadership voice.

In the interview below, Doug discusses the storms he piloted NMHC through. Doug also celebrates the staff he worked alongside and lets us know some of what he’ll be up to now that Sharon Wilson Géno is leading NMHC.

Also, turn our attention this month to the Multifamily Impact Council’s Financial and Economic Health principle with a piece by Esusu’s Nicole DiSarno. Nicole discusses what on-time rental payments can mean for renters’ financial opportunities.

Finally, as the calendar flips to March, be on the lookout for the first version of our Multifamily Impact Council Framework. We’re collecting final feedback from our members and are on target to release Framework 1.0 later next month. It’s an exciting time for the Council and our industry. I’m happy to have you here with us.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Simpson,

President, Multifamily Impact Council

The Impact of Credit Building Through On-time Rent Reporting

By Nicole DiSarno

Director of Communications, Esusu

As the economic climate and global events continue to be characterized by uncertainty and weakened spending power, we’re facing a time when the barriers to owning a home are larger than ever. In the wake of a looming recession, inflation and rising rent prices, renters need to safeguard their financial futures, and building strong credit is fundamental to ensuring financial stability and upward mobility. 

Every month, over 109 million Americans spend an average of $1,100 on rent, which is often their largest monthly household expense at more than 35 percent of their monthly income . However, fewer than 10% of renters see their on-time rental payment history reflected in their credit scores. Access to credit is an underlying problem for working families already experiencing financial hardship. Credit invisibility or poor credit is expensive, routes directly to financial instability, and currently has 45 million people2 in the United States living on the brink of financial turmoil. 


Esusu partners with property owners and operators, lenders, and government sponsored entities to provide free rent reporting services to residents across the country – allowing them to establish and/or build credit and wealth. By reporting on-time rental payments to the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) renters can build credit debt-free. The objective is to give renters the same credit benefits that homeowners receive for making their mortgage payments. 

On average, Esusu renters saw a 45 point score increase in 18 months, enough to bring a renter from subprime to prime, or even prime to super-prime. Further, we have helped residents nationwide establish tens of thousands of credit scores for the first time. Through a partnership with Equifax, we’ve learned that thousands of these residents have gone on to access their first car loans, student loans, credit cards, and even mortgages. Practically, residents getting access to more affordable sources of debt means economic mobility and wealth building.

One thing we can expect in this uncertain climate is that inflation and price hikes hit lower-income households hardest, who already stretch budgets to make ends meet and afford essentials like food, energy and rent – categories which have seen the largest price increases. Those experiencing income shortages or unexpected expenses may need to rely on non-bank credit, like predatory payday loan lenders that charge higher interest rates or demand larger down payments. Alternatively, establishing and building a healthy credit score allows access to traditional bank credit, like credit cards and low-interest personal loans. So, higher credit scores ultimately leave renters with more money in their pockets.


To best prepare for the uncertainty ahead, and to support the financial stability and wellbeing of their residents, property owners and operators can offer rent reporting as a meaningful and differentiated amenity that can lead to better financial stability for residents. Reporting residents’ on-time rental payments to the credit bureaus can help them establish or boost their credit scores, a main factor in building wealth in America. 

Q&A: Doug Bibby, Former President, National Multifamily Housing Council

Doug Bibby

Douglas M. Bibby is the former president of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), a national organization of more than 1,100 member firms involved in the multifamily housing industry. Under his leadership NMHC represents the industry on Capitol Hill and before the regulatory agencies, promotes research and the exchange of information, and advocates for rental housing across a broad spectrum of issues. Prior to joining NMHC, Bibby spent 16 years as a senior officer of Fannie Mae, where he served on the company’s Management Committee throughout his tenure. He was part of the top management team that is credited with the remarkable turnaround at Fannie Mae in the book Good to Great. 

Bibby began his career with the worldwide communications firm J. Walter Thompson where he served a variety of clients both domestically and internationally over his 12-year career with the company. At the time of his departure from J. Walter Thompson, he was Senior Vice President and General Manager of the firm’s Washington, D.C. operations.  Bibby has been active in the non-profit community of Washington, D.C. for the past 30 years. 

Bibby graduated from Denison University with a B.A. degree and was honored with the university’s Alumni Citation Award in 2004. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

What makes you most proud when you think back on your time at NMHC?

When I took the job, it was June of 2001, and renting was seen as sort of one of two things: Either for the poor, who can't afford anything else or as a waystation for people who want to become homeowners. And basically, it was looked down on by many audiences, including investors who would say, "Well, you know, we don't like your model because your turnover (at the time) was about 85%." Particularly international investors would say, "You know, your people are leaving every year, 85% of them, and that's not good." And we would say, "Well, no, it's not bad either. Because typically, we trade up, you know, when someone leaves." 

I think the thing I'm most proud of is just leading with the facts. Who rents apartments? Who lives in them? Who owns them? And I think what we really made progress on is an understanding of the very nature of renters. There are people who, in fact, love to rent and love to be down in downtown areas near where they work and play. And, yes, there are some people who are on their way to homeownership. And yes, there are some people who can't afford a loan. But it's much more varied. There are a lot of renters by choice. And then, with investors, particularly those investing in affordable multifamily, is building an understanding of the really competitive returns that you can generate. 

And I was very proud and honored to have started the Research Foundation at NMHC. And it was just named in my honor, which was just a really wonderful tribute. The very first study that we did was on the risk-adjusted returns of the major sectors of real estate. And that was done to show that multifamily delivers very solid, competitive, predictable returns versus other sectors of real estate. What it showed was that over five years, over ten years, or 15 years, multifamily was exceeding returns on every other sector of real estate. 

I go back to when I started. Investors were demanding a 250-, 300-basis point premium to invest in multifamily assets over, say, office and retail. Well, how about today? That script has completely flipped. If you want to invest in office and retail today, you are asking for a very sizeable premium for risk. I think the dropping of the risk premium, and a greater understanding of the value of investing in multifamily, and the greater understanding of who lives and owns multifamily, I think is near the top of the list of things I'm proudest of. 

The other thing I will say is I'm very proud to have led this organization through four really disruptive periods. One was 9/11. The second was Katrina, which was hugely disruptive, and the third was the Great Recession. And then, obviously, through the pandemic. It wasn't a cakewalk for me by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm very proud that the staff and I and our members and our investors all hung in there through those tumultuous periods.

How do you think NMHC survived those tumultuous periods?

Well, with Katrina, our members just stepped up to the plate to really try to house those who had been displaced. But we got a little lucky with the Great Recession because capital flows dried up completely. And developers were not allowed to develop. There was just no capital. And my members took advantage of the significant drop in interest rates to lock in very favorable terms of debt over ten years.

And when the economy began to rebound, our sector was first out. And it was first out because no one was over-leveraged, no one had overbuilt, all balance sheets were scrubbed and cleaned, and were in great shape. And we just took off coming out of the Great Recession. And you look back on 2010, 2011, 2012; other sectors were still struggling. The Home Builders lost millions of members.

The pandemic was another example of the industry really stepping forward. You know, we first sent out an advisory — an advisory, not a demand — to our members to not evict but to work with the residents on their rent and their circumstances. And we didn't have to do that because they all did it anyway. But we were most worried about the ability of people to pay. We thought we might just fall off a cliff during the pandemic, with people walking away from their rents. And in fact, 90-plus percent were faithful to their rent obligations and to their leases. And our members made a difference with the remaining 10%.

There were some bad players among renters, and that happens in all walks of life. But for the most part, the residents of our communities paid their rents faithfully on time. And we found through the Rent Payment Tracker, people could dial in, whether it be policymakers in Washington, state and local governments, or investors, to follow the good news that was really coming out of that. And also, the government helped through the CARES Act and then subsequently through the ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program), which really made a big difference for the industry.

What challenges do you see facing the industry today?

The last several years, including two very long, expensive battles in California, are rent control initiatives. And they're cropping up all across the country. And that ties to a lack of understanding, again, of the dynamics of the rental industry and what happens when you superimpose government controls over the free market.

The industry started NMHC in 1978 to fight rent control and to try to get it off the books because it was inhibiting developers' ability to produce housing of all types. And here we are, in the later years of my tenure, rent control is brought forward as this panacea. Study after study after study, and there's not one that's refuted this, has shown that rent control hurts affordability.

The people who live in rent-controlled apartments are very happy, but that raises the rents on all the rest of that community that are not rent controlled. It also stifles development. I say, every time I'm asked about rent control, it has not produced a single unit of affordable housing wherever it has been introduced. Not one single unit. Because it can't. But it's popping up everywhere because people scream at the politicians, "My rent’s too high. I can't afford it. Do something."

Well, instead of doing something practical, like lowering regulatory barriers and opening doors to development, they're shutting those doors and then expecting things to get better. The people who scream are happy because the government's done something, but the rest of the community then suffers. That's one thing I'm watching with great disappointment and dismay.

The other thing I'm watching with great disappointment and dismay is the NIMBY movement. These wealthy communities, homeowners in those communities, blocking the ability to build housing that's affordable to those people who provide services to those wealthy homeowners. And the NIMBY movement has gotten worse and gotten more creative in terms of barriers to development and redevelopment.

At the end of the day, if you ask anyone on the left or the right or down the middle, what's the solution? It is producing more housing. That is going to produce a better solution for everybody. But what's happening on the one hand with the rent control folks and then the other hand with the NIMBYs is exactly the opposite. That stifles development and inhibits the ability to produce and redevelop housing at all price points.

What can the industry do to combat those two movements?

You've got to have the media understand what's going on. You've also got to meet with your local and state politicians. You can't just leave it to the screamers to come in there with their banners and their foghorns, yelling and screaming at meetings. You've got to be able to work through the system on it. There's no other way.

You could do a $100 million advertising campaign that wouldn't put a dent in it. And it really has to be at the state and local level, frankly. And that's just hard work. But it is meeting with and electing people who aren't so far to one side or the other, who understand you have to compromise to make things happen.

Let's talk about your future. What's your next chapter look like?

I'm going to be very selective. I'm not going to pursue another full-time career. I've paid my dues. But I will be in the industry in different ways. One example is I have joined the national board of Shelters to Shutters. We may change that name, but it's dealing with the situationally homeless and the apartment industry.

It identifies people who are situationally homeless and enlists them in a training program to prepare them for entry-level jobs in our industry—for example, maintenance techs, leasing agents, and groundskeepers. And by going through this training program and by getting apartment companies to hire them, they are able to put a roof over their head, get a salary, and begin to get their feet on the ground to go forward.

To me, that's right in my sweet spot of things I've been doing. I'm looking at some other things involving the pipeline of talent coming into the industry, and the access to capital, particularly for women and minorities. I don't think I'm going to stray too far away. I'll be doing things that I think are sticking to my knitting and where I can help with my contacts and so on.

I'm very proud of the Shelters to Shutters initiative because it is multifamily-centric. And we're doing something which will eventually be hundreds and hundreds of people a year who transition out of situational homelessness into jobs. And by the way, you talk to any apartment firm; they're dying to find maintenance people. They're dying to find groundskeepers. And they're dying to find leasing agents. So, we're going to be training those people so that they're ready to go.

Any final words you'd like to share about your time at NMHC?

What's made me successful as the CEO is really a membership that has been so willing to step up when I needed them to and a staff who are second to none in real estate, let alone anywhere else. I will stack up the staff of NMHC against anybody. They have been committed and diligent, and professional. And we have weathered all these storms together. Very few people in the middle up to senior levels left. They hung in there with us. And they're still there.

And so, I'm very proud of that. Because obviously, we're doing something right, that they stay and prosper. I'm proud of that, but also very at peace with myself, where I am, where NMHC is, and the industry. It's got some challenges, but I think we're prepared to weather it and come out the other side.

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