2013 REAL LETTINGS
Nearly ten years on from the launch of our first impact property fund in partnership with Real Lettings, we have a proven track record demonstrating that social impact investment is a sustainable and scalable solution to one of the biggest issues in society – homelessness.
Susan Fallis, Director of Real Lettings, contributed to our Twenty Years of Impact book, published this year to celebrate Resonance’s twentieth anniversary. In the book she reflects on the true partnership that exists between St Mungo’s and Resonance, that has delivered three homelessness property funds. She also explains how together, we have learned and adapted to changes over the years, putting the tenant always at front and centre of decisions – from the quality of properties, the refurbishments through to the support available.
One of our predecessor organisations had set up Real Lettings as a way of finding properties for people experiencing homelessness, so that when they were ready to live independently, they could move out of emergency accommodation into the private rented sector but with a landlord who understood more about what they had been through.
After working with lots of individual landlords we realised that there had to be a way to grow and be more efficient. Daniel was trying to build a model of using social investment to support access to property. He was the first person we met who was a credible partner, with the same aims and objectives; achieving social impact through property.
From the very beginning, Daniel was actively committed to partnership working and actively demonstrated this, for example in sharing the costs on feasibility studies. We soon realised our shared vision and commitment, as well as demonstrating a viable model, made us perfect partners.
We launched the first Real Lettings Property Fund (RLPF1) with anchor investment from L&Q, then also gained support from Big Society Capital. It was a genuine partnership as the two organisations evolved together – it felt as though we were breaking new ground.
Proud of the high-quality properties
We launched with a building that we still have to this day. The first tenant, a mother and daughter, loved the property and remained there for almost eight years.
It was really high profile – we were the first property social impact fund in the UK. Ian Duncan Smith even attended and advocated for the Fund at one of our events. The properties were of a high quality and we felt proud showing people them. It was lovely to be able to offer prospective tenants a home they deserved. We were solving social problems through social impact investment and giving single people and families an opportunity which they probably wouldn’t otherwise have.
The partnership is what has driven the project and made it successful - we had the same aim and were all very committed to making it work. We evolved together, and for each issue and problem that arose, we tackled and came up with solutions together.
Following the success of the first fund, we were able to launch a further two funds – a second in London and a national fund working in Bristol, Oxford and Milton Keynes. And most importantly, the quality of property didn’t change, if anything it improved as we learnt more about what was important to our tenants.
Impact investing works
There have been a lot of other changes - we went through a merger in 2014, trebled in size and became a Housing Association. Together, we worked through the impact of those changes.
There have also been external factors which have had an impact – the benefit reform, the forthcoming fire and building safety bill, the impact of Grenfell and of course the COVID-19 pandemic. And we now have the cost of living crisis. Resonance led on social impact reporting which has always pulled out key themes to help our work with clients and we have explored how we can use property to alleviate some of the challenges our clients face. For example, Resonance has fitted equipment to minimise the damp and mould which arises when tenants can’t afford to heat their homes.
Resonance has proven that investing can produce a return and deliver on social impact. Impact investing works – proven by the over 2,000 people we have housed and, most importantly, facilitated stability from which our tenants can rebuild their lives.
We need longer term investments; seven years is not long enough to create the type of social impact we want to see. We would like to be able to use the success of our Funds to persuade larger longer term investors that the social impact is equally as important as the financial impact.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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