“The availability of decent, low cost rental accommodation is a growing concern in Victoria, and women are at the greatest risk of homelessness due to a number of well-publicised social factors,” says Barry Plant CEO, Mike McCarthy.
“Supporting an organisation that provides safe, affordable housing for at-risk women and their children is a tangible way in which we can help combat the disadvantage that vulnerable people in our society often suffer.”
While rental vacancies are at a 25-year low and rent has increased at three times the rate of inflation, social housing provided by governments has declined by 20% over the last decade. Homelessness is a burgeoning crisis, and women are especially vulnerable. WPI purchases and builds properties, for the sole purpose of providing secure and affordable housing to women and their children who are at risk of homelessness. Rent is charged at 30% of the household income, and never exceeds 75% of market value.
WPI links with local government and community agencies where needed, to ensure tenants are supported in their new housing. “Affordable, appropriate and secure housing is a basic need and right that is not being adequately provided for by the Government or private sectors,” says Jeanette Large, CEO of WPI and principal of Property Initiatives Real Estate. “Affordable housing is the foundation for building a better life, and is a key factor in the reduction of ‘next generation’ poverty.”
WPI is funded primarily by philanthropic grants with little government funding available.. To generate an income and become more self-sustaining, WPI launched its social enterprise, Property Initiatives Real Estate in April 2015. Property Initiatives Real Estate is Australia’s first full service, social enterprise real estate agency, providing residential sales and property management services across inner Melbourne.
This social-enterprise business model ensures that all profits go towards WPI to build homes for at-risk women and children. Independent research, conducted by Social Ventures Australia for WPI, demonstrates that the longer women and children have stable and secure housing at an affordable rate, the more value is created for them, and for the wider community. Sustainable social and economic benefits are numerous, and include significant saving to the government and taxpayer through avoided costs of welfare, counselling and rehabilitation. Secure housing also leads to reduced re-entry into correctional institutions, improved mental health and academic performance of children, and increased employment and return to study for tenants.
“We create community housing firstly to provide safe and affordable housing to the people who are most vulnerable, and secondly because it makes social and economic sense,” says Jeanette.
The Barry Plant’s Group Property Management Specialist, Yvonne Martin, is providing support to the Property Management team at Property Initiatives Real Estate and she’s working to help the team run a very efficient rent roll and maximise the profitability of their operations.
The Barry Plant network is also taking referrals for home sales from Property Initiatives Real Estate, using their large network and professional skills to ensure the best price possible is achieved for the property and in doing so, helping to bolster funds for WPI.
For more information visit wpi.org.au