A specialist investment firm has launched a new housing fund it says will invest in the provision of “safe, stable and appropriate” homes for vulnerable people and their families.
Social & Sustainable Capital (SASC) said its Social and Sustainable LP will appeal to both charities and investors alike, as it was co-designed with the former to ensure demand for investment.
“We are proud to have created an innovative investment structure in housing that appeals to both borrower charities and investors,” said Ben Rick, SASC’s managing director. “The fund will address a major social issue by increasing the stock of quality homes that will be available to communities for the long term.”
The fund is launching with over £26 million in commitments from 19 investors, SASC says. These include the Social Investment Business (SIB) and Big Society Capital (BSC), which provided the capital for two initial funds SASC established in 2014.
In addition to these original investors, the fund has attracted investment from Garfield Weston Foundation, CCLA Investment Management, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Tudor Trust, City Bridge Trust, University of Edinburgh, Power to Change, Trust for London, Adlib Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust.
Furthermore, individuals representing SASC’s board and investment committee have committed almost £1.75 million to the first close.
“We are delighted to announce this significant first close, supported by both existing social investors and those entering the market for the first time,” Rick added. “Fundraising is ongoing, and we are targeting a total fund size of £100 million which will allow us to support 30 organisations to house 10,000 people over the next 10 years.”
Nick Temple, SIB’s chief executive, said: “Back in 2014, Social Investment Business invested in SASC and both of their initial funds. We are hugely proud to have been involved in their development, and now during this next important phase with the Social and Sustainable Housing LP. We’re also very excited about the fund’s potential for impact on an important social issue, with the strength of partnership as a key driving force.”
Philippa Charles, director, Garfield Weston Foundation, added: “This innovative housing fund has been designed with and for the market; it meets a clear need and our trustees like the fact it places decision making in the hands of organisations who know the beneficiaries best.”
Caroline Mason, chief executive at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, added: “For many charities and social enterprises meeting the housing needs of those they support is difficult. This new fund sets a benchmark in how capital is made available to provide stable and long-term homes for people who do not have them. The investment structure offers clear benefits to both borrowers and investors, which is why it has already engaged the support of so many grant making trusts and foundations.”
James Bevan, chief investment officer at CCLA, said: “We recognise the opportunity to work in a collegiate fashion with experts in the fields of social housing and finance to generate strong long-term returns and address market failures.”
Hull Women’s Network, based at the Preston Road Women’s Centre, which provide safe homes for vulnerable women and their children in Hull, is set to be the first recipient of the funding.
“We are delighted to be named as the first investee of this ground-breaking new fund,” said Lisa Hilder, one of the women’s centre’s trustees. “We have worked with SASC for the last four years and helped to pilot this innovative approach to creating safe homes for women and children fleeing violence and abuse.
“This investment will enable us to offer safe homes to an additional 49 families in the next 18 months and help them rebuild their lives. The funding will also increase the financial resilience of our organisation.”
Douglas Sloan, investment manager at BSC, said: “We are pleased to be investing into Social and Sustainable Capital’s new property fund. Enabling more mission-led organisations to have access to safe, suitable and affordable housing is a key priority for Big Society Capital, and the approach that SASC has taken in creating the fund, with a focus on the needs of the charities, was a principal factor in our decision to make this commitment.”