April 12, 2021

Ben Rick: Social and Sustainable Housing fund reaches almost £60 million

Ben Rick, Managing Director, Social and Sustainable Capital

Today we are delighted to announce that we have completed the second round of funding for our award-winning Social and Sustainable Housing fund (SASH).

The Fund now stands at £58m, and remains the only Fund set up to put ownership of social housing in the hands of front-line charities working to solve the homeless crisis.

The Fund has seen increased commitments from CCLA Investment Management, Big Society Capital, Garfield Weston and Tudor Trust, as well as new investment from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Virgin Money Foundation.

We are really pleased that the GMCA has chosen to invest and we hope that we will see more local authorities and other institutional asset managers, foundations and family offices invest in the future.

SASH provides finance to allow high performing social enterprises with a strong track record in the management of social housing to purchase properties.

Our goal is to provide homes for 10,000 people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so, alongside attractive, stable, long-term returns for investors generated from the receipt of government paid housing benefit.

We are making great progress and we are working with some truly inspirational charities and enabling them to help some of society’s most vulnerable people with their housing needs. These include Hull Women’s Network, Active Prospect, Target Housing, Valley House and Baca.

Already over £38.3 million of the fund is earmarked to help vulnerable people find high-quality supported housing.

There are many reasons why SASH is so attractive to charities and has been so well received.

Firstly, the structure offers a unique financial product that is neither a mortgage nor a lease and offers an alternative for social sector organisations to own their own properties. It enables charities to buy safe, stable housing in a risk-free way, as it provides finance to fund 100% of a property purchase plus any associated costs, without requiring fixed term mortgage-like repayments, and includes the option (but not the obligation) for organisations to refinance the portfolio in 10 years’ time at a 15% discount to market prices.

A key benefit for organisations we support is they gain long-term control of their properties so they can provide secure accommodation as well as support for their clients.

Over the past year, it’s been fantastic to see our borrowers using the funds to broaden their services and house and support more people, and broaden their social impact in the areas they operate.

Many of our investees provide transitional supported housing – housing that bridges the gap between homelessness and permanent housing. We recently worked with IPPR North who conducted research and found this sector of housing is largely overlooked by government and others.

The report highlighted that 189,500 people are housed within the transitional supported housing market, but there is little accurate data on it, and it is hugely diverse, complex, and hard to define.

Market challenges include the lack of sustainable funding, a scarcity of quality housing, a lack of clear policy from government and no regulation to ensure landlords provide the high-quality housing people deserve.

We are proud we can support charities in this space and to enable them to become property owners.

We tailor all our social investment solutions to our borrowers and spend a great deal of time understanding their needs and goals, and supporting them through the entire investment process.

Our SASH fund delivers a return on investment and is attracting capital, but this has been balanced always by the need to create an environment in which charities can operate safety, thrive and be financially sustainable.

We encourage charities working in the housing sector who are considering taking on social investment to get in touch. We’ve won several awards for our innovative and ground-breaking approach to social finance, so take a look at what we can offer www.socialandsustainable.com/what-we-offer/.