Homes for Good Investments: Ensuring Sustainable Housing for the Underserved in Scotland
Housing insecurity is a significant challenge in Scotland. A 2013 government report estimates it may take 20 years before supply can sufficiently meet the growing housing demand. The situation is particularly dire for households with incomes that are too low to afford private housing and who are also excluded from or are on long waiting lists for social housing.
“There is an acute shortage of suitable housing options for people with limited financial resources,” says Susan Aktemel, founder of Homes for Good CIC. As a social business Homes for Good CIC is a lettings and property management agency that bridges the divide between the private housing market and those who cannot afford home ownership and are ineligible for social housing.
Launched in August 2014, Homes for Good Investments is a new joint venture led by Susan and Homes for Good CIC, in partnership with Impact Ventures UK, which will help ensure a wider stock of affordable and well-maintained homes are available to underserved households.
Investing in a Vision—and Homes—for the Future
“Over the life of the investment, we anticipate that Homes for Good Investments will create a positive impact, creating a portfolio of 120 properties to house 500-600 tenants,” says Raf Goovaerts, Partner and Head of the UK investment team at LGT Impact Ventures, IVUK’s founding partner.
“These people include young working people on low incomes, people who are disadvantaged due to unemployment, illness or disability, and people who are being supported through homelessness to return to their own homes.” Nearly half of all Homes for Good’s current tenants living in nine local authorities in west and central Scotland, face at least two life-changing support needs. These challenges include mental illness, addiction, illness or disability, or they are lone parents, immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers, homeless or veterans.
“I describe myself as a social property developer,” says Susan, “bringing tired flats and houses back to life and creating beautiful new homes for people who need them most. With Homes for Good, I saw an opportunity to combine my love of property development, expertise as a landlord and in business with an ability to deliver social impact.”
In many ways, Homes for Good CIC is similar to any high-street lettings agency: It offers prospective tenants its own portfolio of properties along with properties from local landlords. At the same time, it also maintains an investment portfolio of homes in development, which the new joint venture with IVUK will help expand. Homes for Good also serves as a property manager, helping both tenants and landlords troubleshoot and provide solutions when needs arise, such as repairs and maintenance.
The difference, however, is that achieving lasting and positive social change is at the heart of its business. Homes for Good offers services that might seem unimaginable to other agencies: not just finding new homes for marginalised households, but also actively supporting tenants on a personal level to maintain residency and good relationships.
“Our vision is to have around 1000 properties directly under management within the West of Scotland by 2017,” says Susan, “and to have created a replicable model to enable like-minded partners to establish Homes for Good in other UK cities.
Human Beings First, Tenants Second
Through a Tenancy Support Officer who is also a qualified social worker, tenants who are in arrears are given support to help them budget better and make mutually beneficial payment plans. Homes for Good CIC staff also connects with other professionals offering support services to tenants, such as those grappling with mental illness or addiction issues, to ensure holistic approaches can address challenges that may threaten sustainable tenancies.
Homes for Good CIC currently manages 110 properties, in partnership with 33 landlords, and works with 120 tenants, 60% of whom are actively supported in their tenancy by Homes for Good staff.
“By looking at people’s needs and aspirations as human beings, first and foremost, we match people up with the right accommodations that are of a high standard,” says Susan. “Then we work with them with the help they need to help progress in their lives.”
The E3M Finance Publication ‘Financing Social Enterprise Growth’ has now been published
Publication date: May 2015 |Categories: Featured, Money, Publications