Inside Housing – Insight – The investment fund that aims to house marginalized women

To date, the fund has nine registered partners. It has an acquisition team that searches for properties that meet the requirements of charity partners. Once an application is approved, the fund buys the property, pays for costs such as relocation and renovations, and then leases it back to the charity – usually on a 10-year lease. The fund has acquired 29 properties, with seven more nearing completion – on a target of 600 within three years.

The rent is set by the charity partner, and usually the arrangement involves providing support as well as accommodation to the tenant, with the rent being paid for through Housing Benefit. This is exempt housing, that is to say housing exempt from the ceiling on rents in order to pay for the aid delivered.

The fund is aware of reputational issues with the exempt accommodation model, where some providers have been mired in controversy over charging sky-high rents, while providing little support. Some of the issues have involved exempt housing based on leases. Crisis said some vendors were “abusing the system for financial gain”.

“These organizations that we work with, we work with them because they have the experience and the history of providing specialist, gender-informed, trauma-informed support to women”

Those involved with the fund are aware of the controversy. Ms Swinden of Resonance says the fund plans to avoid these problems by choosing the right charity partners and doing their due diligence on them. “These organizations that we work with, we work with them because they have a reputation and a history of providing specialist, women-friendly and trauma-informed support,” she says.

It is here that the fund will rely on the reputation of charities to distance itself from the problems that have been exposed in the exempt accommodation sector.

Undoubtedly, this is also where the fund’s advisory board comes in – in addition to Ms Inman, there are eight senior women from different worlds. This includes Rehaila Sharif, membership manager at Women’s Aid, and Jacinta Kent, a group psychotherapist who specializes in trauma-informed approaches to working with marginalized women. From housing, there’s Colette Cronshaw, who works in a mixed homeless shelter run by the Riverside Housing Association. From the investment world, there’s impact investor Elizabeth Corrado and real estate investor Cherine Aboulzelof. It’s a long and varied list and we don’t have room to include everyone.

The fund’s sales documents highlight a number of statistics that justify the fund’s existence: 60% of women released from prison have no home to go to upon release; 57% of women referred to a shelter are turned away for lack of space; 66% of homeless adults in temporary accommodation are women.

Can the fund make a dent in these statistics? For the women behind the numbers, the crucial answer will not be whether the fund can deliver returns for investors, but whether it can deliver better housing outcomes than the status quo.

About Gloria Turner

Check Also

10 new jobs created by the metaverse

Following Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, the Metaverse has captured attention like never before By 2026, …