National Homelessness Property Fund receives further £5.2m investment

The National Homelessness Property Fund (NHPF), managed by social impact investment company Resonance and homelessness charity St Mungo’s, has received an investment of £5.2m from Oxford City Council, Project Snowball and the Treebeard Trust. The NHPF purchases homes around the UK for people affected by homelessness, helping them move on with their life and into independent living. 

The NHPF is one of three property funds from Resonance, the other two being the Real Lettings Property Funds (RLPF) 1 and 2, which are building residential property portfolios in Greater London.  With this investment the Funds have now grown to more than £160m providing almost 700 homes nationwide, housing thousands of people who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness over the life of the Funds.

Oxford City Council was one of the original investors into the NHPF when it was launched in December 2015, along with Bristol and Milton Keynes councils and Big Society Capital.  The NHPF has been buying homes in these areas, which are some of the most expensive in which to rent homes in the UK outside London.

Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council and Board member for Leisure and Housing (pictured), explains why the council has invested again: “The growing gap between local housing allowance rates and actual rents makes it increasingly difficult for us to use the private rented sector to prevent homelessness in Oxford. Investing in the NHPF again means we can keep providing suitable and affordable private rented accommodation locally, and this will particularly help to prevent homelessness for working families on low wages. The NHPF is a more cost-effective homelessness prevention option than having to provide expensive temporary accommodation, with the additional benefit of being a social investment for the council.”

The award winning RLPF blueprint enables housing teams to nominate individuals or households, who will receive support from Real Lettings, the social lettings agency run by St Mungo’s, to help them maintain their tenancies and move towards employment, stability and independence.

Susan Fallis from St Mungo’s says:  The NHPF is helping people stay within their local support networks, keeping their children in school and assisting them to move to securing longer term tenancies.  This new investment will allow us to extend that impact to even more people who are vulnerable to homelessness.”

For the investors, the property funds generated income from rents and capital from appreciation when the properties are sold (most likely to a follow-on social impact investment fund). Resonance buys properties as individual units rather than in blocks thus diversifying the portfolio, while investors’ risk is further reduced with Real Lettings acting as guarantors of rents. But the innovative focus of these Funds is on their social impact. So often, prospective tenants who have been homeless can feel barred from the private rented sector, whereas in this innovative model the expertise of St Mungo’s and Real Lettings allows them to evaluate a tenants’ readiness to progress towards independence and gives them that chance of establishing a tenancy.

John Williams, Investment Director & Head of Property at Resonance, welcomes the new investment: “We are delighted that Oxford City Council, Snowball and Treebeard Trust have decided to invest further in the NHPF, which is a great endorsement that this model is working well for both tenants and investors.”

Abigail Rotheroe from Project Snowball said of their investment: “There is a shortage of affordable housing for rent by individuals and families who are homeless or living in unsatisfactory temporary accommodation. Snowball is pleased to support the Fund so that it can continue to invest in new properties to meet these urgent needs.”

Founder of Treebeard Trust Barnaby Wiener said of their investment:  “We are excited by the NHPF model. It tackles a critical social need with a viable solution which can transform the lives of its tenants and generate satisfactory returns to investors.”