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Harnessing investor dollars to help women facing homelessness Analysis

Harnessing investor dollars to help women facing homelessness


Can innovative social enterprises help solve women’s homelessness? Women’s Property Initiatives’ Sally Martin explores.

Let’s start with some stats. On any given night in Australia, more than 100,000 people experience homelessness. And of this figure, almost half are women.

Behind these stats are women from all walks of life—survivors of family violence, migrants who have fled home-country conflict, older women who have worked their whole lives, girls in high school, women in university, women who are working, or trying to find work, women with a disability, Aboriginal women…the list goes on.

And at first glance, it’s hard to see how things are going to get better:

  • The public housing waiting list is thousands of names long.
  • Only 6.4% of properties in the private rental market are affordable for people on low incomes (and it’s no surprise, a disproportionate number of these people are women).
  • The $115 million National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) which currently funds more than 150 homelessness and family violence programs is set to expire 1 July 2017 and some 80,000 Australians are left wondering about what the future holds.

But the community services sector isn’t known for giving up. Countless organisations are finding new and creative ways to provide practical support for those who need it most.

A home-grown example is the Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI), a not-for-profit that builds and manages affordable, long-term homes solely for women who are facing homelessness. In a perpetually restricted funding environment, WPI has had to think outside of the proverbial box for ways to find capital in order to continue this vital work.

In 2015, we launched Property Initiatives Real Estate, a social enterprise that provides commercial real estate services. Promoted as “profit for a purpose”, the real estate agency provides a property management service for investors, along with a sales service to ensure buyers get the local knowledge and expertise they need for a sale.


But how does it work?

Under a social-enterprise business model, all profits are directed to WPI to help expand  its housing stock. Over time these profits will  help provide homes for many more than the 180 women and children WPI currently accommodates.

These long-term homes with affordable rents are the foundation that women and children need to rebuild their lives after being homeless, and, in many cases, after experiencing family violence.

A win-win for everyone

This venture means that while investors can enjoy a seamless, stress free and competitively priced property management service and at the same time  generate positive social impact by improving the lives of women and children who don’t have a safe or secure home to go to.

Since launching only a year ago, Property Initiatives Real Estate has established a substantial rent roll and was recently appointed by Grocon as the preferred property manager for their Bouverie Street apartment development at the former Carlton brewery site.

They were selected based on their strong credentials in property management as well as their social consciousness and community focus.

We believe this is a great model for businesses, investors and community organisations working together to achieve powerful social change.

Want to know more?

If you’d like more information on Property Initiatives Real Estate or to list a property, contact Kristie Looney 03 9663 3275 / 0430 106 695 or via email.