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Assetz Exchange partners with local charity to help the homeless in Watford

For the most part, Assetz Exchange collaborates with large,  regulated organisations that offer housing for vulnerable individuals. While we are often preferred partners for these larger operators due to our agility and cost competitiveness, it is with smaller organisations that Assetz Exchange investors excel in delivering exceptional value. This is because smaller organisations often lack access to fair capital and the organisational infrastructure of many larger financial institutions. Yet smaller charities are often the best placed to deliver care to vulnerable members of society due to their exclusive focus on local areas. A prime example of this is our partnership with the Group for the Rootless of Watford (GROW), a well-established homeless charity in Watford. Assetz Exchange has acquired two properties for the charity: #181 Whippendell Road and #151 Brixton Road in Watford.

Since its establishment in 1983, GROW  has remained committed to providing accommodation for homeless adult men. The individuals housed by GROW have often faced numerous social injustices and lack access to appropriate support. Many of GROW’s service users have endured prolonged periods of homelessness, some resorting to sofa surfing while others have been forced to sleep rough in harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, verbal abuse and physical attacks during these nights are all too common.

GROW not only offers food, water, and shelter but also provides comprehensive 24/7 support, emotional assistance, and practical aid to manage day-to-day life. This support ranges from assisting with administrative tasks like reading letters and filling out forms to helping with essential activities such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning. GROW also helps individuals reconnect with family and rebuild their lives by facilitating access to education, training, volunteering, and employment opportunities. The ultimate goal is to assist individuals in transitioning from homelessness to independent living. For those unable to live independently, GROW provides long-term support.

A case study illustrates the impact of GROW’s support:

Wayne, aged 32, had a lengthy history of rough sleeping, offending behaviour, and addiction to heroin, crack/cocaine, and alcohol when he accessed GROW services. He was experiencing deteriorating mental health, increasing feelings of hopelessness, depression, and anxiety, as well as physical health issues such as being underweight and struggling with everyday tasks. Before GROW, Wayne had spent much of the past 12 years either rough sleeping or in prison. GROW provided him with support and accommodation for three years, during which he became stable and capable enough to transition to independent living. Through GROW’s advocacy, Wayne was resettled into a one-bedroom property, where he stopped substance abuse and refrained from offending behaviour. He improved his relationship with his family, maintained regular contact with his children, and found fulfilment in living independently and undertaking paid employment.

Statistics provided by the Crisis Homeless Charity highlight the stark realities faced by homeless individuals: the average age of death for homeless men is 46, they are almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence, more than one in three have experienced violence while homeless, and they are over nine times more likely to take their own lives compared to the general population.

In recent years, the challenge of securing properties to house the vulnerable homeless has intensified amidst a rise in homelessness. Many of GROW’s service users have multiple health needs, including mental and physical conditions exacerbated by homelessness. Fortunately, Assetz Exchange and its social investors have played a crucial role in enabling GROW to acquire additional homes to house and support homeless men who would otherwise be at risk of death on the streets.

The two properties were launched on Assetz Exchange net yields of 5.4% and 7.5% respectively. Both are linked to inflation and GROW have been excellent tenants, illustrating how investors can enjoy good returns through Assetz Exchange, whilst at the same time delivering clear benefits to society.


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