With house prices across the Sydney metropolitan area continuing to soar, the impact of strained affordability on very low to moderate income earners cannot be understated.

“While much of the public commentary is focused on homeownership, rising prices have a flow-on effect to rental prices. This is pushing many families, older people, single parents, and individuals to the brink of homelessness,” said Andrea Galloway, CEO of Evolve Housing and Echo Realty.

Recent statistics from National Shelter show that many low income households are paying up to 70% of their income on rent alone, leaving little for basic necessities like food and electricity. This heightened vulnerability increases the risk of homelessness.

“Homelessness is a hidden issue in our community,” Galloway said. “People often associate being homeless with living on the street, and while this is the sad reality for many people, only 6 per cent of people experiencing homelessness sleep rough. The other 94 per cent are couch surfing, sleeping on friends’ or relatives’ sofas, living in cars, sleeping in emergency accommodations, or living in other inadequate arrangements.”

“Most people probably don’t realise that of the 105,000 Australians experiencing homelessness, 42 per cent of these people are under the age of 24, and 44 per cent are women.”

“As an organisation we are looking at innovative ways to be part of the solution,” Galloway said. “One way we can be part of the solution is to support people so that they can participate in the community and economy. This is why social support programs, which are aimed at upskilling people and connecting them with employment, are so important. This isn’t work that we are directly funded to do, so by launching Echo Realty we are able to generate profits from our long history as property managers to invest in social programs.”

Property investment with a conscience

“One hundred-percent of all profits from Echo Realty go directly to social inclusion programs. This model doesn’t affect the financial returns associated with owning a rental property,” Galloway said. “Financially competitive property management fees are charged, and the same or higher level of service to the investor and the tenant is provided.”

Rather than the property management fees going to the owner of the agency, they are instead invested in social programs. For example, a year’s worth of management fees from one property can provide 50 hours of tutoring for a child from a disadvantaged family. Alternatively, the fees could provide five families or young people who have just moved into a home directly from homelessness with the basic essentials they’ll need to set up their new homes. 

“The programs that we are able to fund with the profits are directly invested into breaking the cycle of poverty,” Galloway said.

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