Housing and local facilities

Housing and local facilities

Offering affordable housing and homelessness support

committed to charities and social enterprises


number of people that have been housed so far

of investments ahead or on track to deliver social impact


Housing and homelessness are major challenges in the UK. The lack of affordable housing means that more people are living in the private rented sector where over a third of homes do not meet the Decent Homes Standard and homelessness is rising.

Social investment is providing finance to charities and social enterprises to deliver specialist accommodation for vulnerable people, explore alternative ways of delivering more affordable homes and offer transitional housing so that homeless people can make the step from temporary housing into long-term, permanent affordable accommodation. Revenue is generated mainly from rental income including housing benefit. There is significant scope for social investment to do more to test innovative housing schemes which provide effective support and create social impact.

Impact evidence is relatively well developed in this area. Common metrics used tend to cover outputs including the number of people housed and properties purchased and outcomes such as improved social connections and networks. We would like to do more to consolidate different measurement approaches in housing to build up a clearer picture about the collective impact that social investment is supporting.  

Further information is available on our social issue page for housing

Homes for Good

Social impact

Providing specialist accommodation

Golden Lane Housing and Thera Trust provide specialist accommodation for people with learning disabilities. They have raised over £17 million by issuing charity bonds which are repaid by the rental income from the properties. Tenants are able to live more independently in stable and suitable accommodation, with 98% of Golden Lane residents reporting that they feel safe and secure and 95% happy with the size and layout of their home.

Supporting transitional housing

The £57 million Real Lettings Property Fund has purchased 259 properties in London which are housing 600 people who were homeless or at risk of being homeless. Revenue is generated from rental income including housing benefit. For 87% of tenants, finding a property has a positive impact on their support networks and relationships. Impact evidence and learning are helping to shape the fund's development. For example, an exit survey will be used to address a gap in evidence about what happens to tenants after they move on to alternative accommodation. The National Homelessness Property Fund is replicating the Real Lettings model in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Bristol and is planning to operate in other locations across the UK.

Delivering more affordable homes

Cheyne Capital’s Social Property Fund aims to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing and has invested £25 million to help build 219 flats at the former steelworks site on Kelham Island in Sheffield in partnership with South Yorkshire Housing Association. Revenue is generated from rental income from the properties. The Affordable Homes Rental Fund is providing more suitable homes by working with Community Land Trusts to deliver community-led affordable housing in six areas in England and testing innovative models including self-build projects.  Revenue is generated from rental income and property sales. 


Housing projects need to reach scale to achieve breadth of social impact and to create systemic change in the housing market. However, there is also a need for ‘first mover’ investors in housing innovations – whether this is by pioneering solutions for particular vulnerable groups (such as Commonweal’s Peer Landlord or Housing First approaches) or scaling up alternative approaches such community-led housing, social lettings agencies and supported living.

The number of people to benefit per pound is significantly lower than other interventions and large amounts of capital are needed. Fortunately there are investors such as pension funds who are looking for asset-backed investments they can deploy at scale with long term, stable returns. We have played a role in developing institutional products for these investors, attracting investment at large scale.

Good housing can facilitate other social interventions to address issues and improve wellbeing. Social investors have provided charities and social with homes that have helped them support vulnerable people more effectively.

A level of subsidy or grant is needed to make social rented housing schemes viable, unless investors are willing to accept returns that are substantially below market rates. Revenue subsidy such as housing benefit underpins the business models of many charities within housing. Although capital grants have substantially reduced in recent years, they are available for new affordable housing developments. However, some social investors have been developing investment models which work without such subsidy, including Real Lettings and Cheyne.

Given the importance of revenue subsidy to most housing charities’ business models, potential changes to the Local Housing Allowance are a material barrier to future investment and affect the viability of potential housing schemes. This is particularly the case for supported housing where there are increased costs involved in enabling people with support needs to live fulfilling independent lives in the community. This is despite the fact that these housing options could be expected to reduce the overall cost to the state.