Could social impact investments solve the housing affordability crisis?

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The Treasury recently released a discussion paper that explored different ways the Australian government could develop the social impact investment market as a means of solving the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

Social impact investments are investments that are made with the intention of generating measurable social and environmental outcomes as well as financial returns. It’s an emerging, outcomes-based approach that brings governments, service providers, investors, and communities together in order to tackle a range of social issues.

According to Treasurer Scott Morrison, there are currently 180,000 people on social housing wait lists across the country. In order to accommodate all these people, the number of social housing dwellings would need to grow by nearly 50%.

“We need to create an investment environment to make a meaningful increase to the available stock of affordable housing, one where the involvement of private investment can contribute to increasing supply as demand grows,” Morrison said.

One of the challenges faced by countries developing affordable housing is access to longer-term, low-cost finance. The ability to leverage private-sector investment is required to boost the supply of affordable housing.

Morrison was recently in the UK to meet with leading institutions and entities that have been developing more innovative forms of investment. This includes institutions involved in the £1bn “build to rent” policy, which leverages public spending to encourage large private investors to providing more affordable housing.

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