Supported housing provides crucial help to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Mark Dyer, Head of Business Development at United Response and James Tedrake, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Assetz Exchange, explain how they worked together to purchase a property for two individuals with autism and their carers.
Purchasing a home for autistic adults with the charity United Response
United Response is a charity providing a range of supported services for more than 2,000 people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities. Their key aim is to ensure that individuals are able to live a full life and have as much opportunity as anyone else. Having a suitable place to live is fundamental to anyone’s wellbeing and United Response currently directly manages properties for 400 people in England and Wales and is continually looking to locate individuals to high quality supported living accommodation.
How did the partnership start?
MD: “Good quality specialised accommodation is really hard to find. Some housing needs for the individuals are very specific. Many need space, specialist equipment and accommodation for 24 hour staff support. We also often have to find accommodation in a specific area that meets the needs of the individual to maintain friendships or be near to family. Equally, in the majority of cases, we need to find investment partners that are willing to fund the specific type of accommodation required. Our ambition is to be able to secure a great home for everyone we support, but we need partners to help us meet the challenge. That’s why, when they approached us, we were very keen to explore working with Assetz Exchange.”
JT: “At the end of 2020, we had turned our attention to sourcing property investment opportunities exclusively from the supported housing sector. Not only were we finding that these impact investments were popular, but the nature of the leaseholders and terms made them good long term, stable, inflation linked investments. We were also starting to realise that there was a critical lack of high-quality living accommodation in the UK and wanted to seek partners we could help to improve supply.”
What type of supported housing did you need to fund?
MD: “We were looking to offer new housing to two people with learning disabilities and autism, who were living in a house which no longer suited their needs. Particularly the property had stairs which were increasingly becoming an issue for them. They wanted to stay in the local area to maintain friendships and links with the community and their support team had been able to identify a three-bed bungalow that suited their needs and would make a real difference to their quality of life. We therefore started to work with James at Assetz Exchange to see if this was a property they could support.”
JT: “Our starting point is often to source appropriate property to put forward to the charity or care provider. In this instance, the ideal property had already been identified so our priority was to quickly assess and secure it. We look at properties on a case by case basis and come up with terms and leases that create a win-win for all parties concerned – the individual, the care provider, the investors and any other parties involved. Our partners specify the accommodation details to meet the needs of the individual and the support they need to put in place, so my job is to balance those requirements with the need to ensure that we are buying and leasing the property in a way that delivers a solid investment for the investors on our platform, as well as any other stakeholders involved.”
What was the result?
A 7 year internal repairing and insuring lease was agreed, the property purchase was funded by Assetz Exchange investors in a matter of days and the residents were able to move into their new property within weeks of the property purchase.
MD: “We found that Assetz Exchange were prepared to be flexible when it came to the lease terms for the property. They also moved very quickly and were able to support us in negotiations with the Housing Benefits office and other local stakeholders. James put a lot of personal effort into trying to find solutions and stick with the project. I genuinely believe that if we hadn’t worked on this particular property with Assetz Exchange, it probably wouldn’t have happened.”
Four months after they moved in, the residents have reported that they are delighted with the accommodation and the care team have reported that they have settled in well and that the new specification has given them a new lease of life.
JT: “From the investor point of view this property was quickly underwritten and sold with investors making a forecast yield of 4.7% Many also fed back to us that they were also investing to be able to make a direct difference to people’s lives. Investors on the exchange will also continue to have a role in the property, voting together to make key decisions, when leases are renewed, for example.”
Do you have plans to work together in the future?
MD: “Assetz Exchange have been able to deliver exactly what we look for in a funding partner – flexibility, competitive leasing terms and an ability to move quickly. I also feel they have a passion and commitment to producing good outcomes for individuals and making a positive social impact. They need to return a good yield for their investors, but they’re not prepared to do that at the cost of delivering substandard accommodation or off the shelf solutions. We’re currently in discussions about funding future properties. I’d like to look at working with them to deliver bespoke development projects or specialised supported housing.”
JT: “We’re excited at the idea of funding further projects with United Response and the demand for these type of impact property investments is fierce at the moment. We’re also looking at other ways the portal can help charities and others looking to secure supported living accommodation. For example, we will be looking to add a function that enables investors to donate some or all of their earnings on the Exchange back to the charity. We are also looking at ways in which our investment model can be used to help families to part fund supported accommodation for their loved ones.”
We currently work with charities and other leading supported housing providers to source, lease and fund social housing. We’d love to talk to any organisation that has a need to raise capital for a property purchase in this sector. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0) 3330 119830