Impact Investment

On Tuesday 11 June Shelter WA, in partnership with Impact Seed, convened the inaugural Housing Impact Investment Forum. It brought together a range of industry leading speakers, panel discussions and informative sessions on a range of topics to bring sectors together in creating more impact investment across Western Australia.

The early birds heard first from one of Shelter’s innovative partners, Alex Houlston from BOOMPower, who delivered an interesting information session on their start-up’s energy solutions for the community housing sector.

Once the coffee’s were flowing, the didgeridoo set a warm and connecting mood in the room with a beautiful welcome to country by Noongar artist, Olman Walley, then Shelter WA Board Member Kathleen Gregory gave welcoming remarks to commence the forum.

We then received information from Impact Seed Co-Founder, Kylie Hansen, and Director of Centre for Social Impact at UWA, Prof. Paul Flatau, who introduced the important topic of impact investment and how it can be utilised in community housing.

 Tina Pickett, Noongar Mia Mia

The scene being set, the forum then deep dived into a fascinating panel discussion on the policy landscape and the factors that impact our pursuit of impact investing along with other innovative financing options for the WA housing sector. Thank you to Jennie Vartan (CHIA WA), Kathleen Gregory (Shelter WA and Foundation Housing), Chris West (WA Super), Paul Flatau (CSI UWA), Mark Atkinson (Property Council WA/Atkinson Legal) and Stuart Clarke (WA Housing Authority) for all the fascinating insights.

Following a lunch break and networking, several speakers gave their insights into innovations for community and social housing that has occurred across Australia and what is starting up in WA, metro and regionally focused.

These included Caroline Larcher from the Women's Property Initiative. Via video conference Caroline outlined how the not-for-profit houses women and children facing homelessness by charging tenants rent that is no more than 30% of their household income.

Tracy Longo from Homes for Homes, a sustainable social enterprise by The Big Issue Australia demonstrated how they increased the supply of social and affordable housing via voluntary tax-deductible donations on property transactions.

[L- R] James Best, Future Bayswater and Don Fini, Fini Sustainability

Kirsty Moore's work at Indigenous Business Australia is having a positive impact for Indigenous first home buyers. Their loan product, Fee Finance, assists customers who have the earning capacity to meet housing loan repayments but do not have sufficient savings to pay all the costs associated with purchasing a home. These costs may include government stamp duty; the costs of property valuations and building and pest inspections; conveyancing costs; and mortgage registration fees. A Fee Finance loan is in addition to the customer’s property purchase loan and has different terms, including a shorter loan term (maximum ten years).

Steph Shorter from the North-West Aboriginal Housing Fund spoke about the running of their $200 million initiative that aims to create pathways towards social and economic independence and wellbeing for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara and Kimberley. 

Natalia Gemmell from the Assisted Rental Pathways Pilot project outlined how the Housing Authority (Housing) partnered with the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) and Shelter WA, to work with community services organisations to co-design a service-focussed package to offer eligible social housing tenants and waitlist applicants supported opportunities in the private rental market. This is done by sourcing the rental properties from up to 200 landlords across a variety of locations. Among other things landlords are guaranteed rent for the term of the tenancy and tenants will be assessed, and deemed eligible to participate in the Pilot on the basis they have a good previous rental history and minimal debt.

And Lisa Halton from Bieundurry Designs, an Aboriginal social enterprise, is working to address the entrenched problem of culturally inappropriate housing leading to a spectrum of poor social and financial outcomes. It delivers housing and town planning design that ensures that Indigenous Australians can live according to their cultural lore and spending on housing is cost-effective.

Shelter WA would again like to deeply thank all the speakers and attendees at the forum for an exciting day of ideas, collaboration and discussion to ignite more impact investment in WA. It was well-agreed that there are significant opportunities for public, private and community sectors to come together to ensure all people in WA have housing that enables them to thrive.

Impact Seed Crew



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