Radio National reported this morning that Australia’s first not-for-profit real estate agency opens today in Melbourne – a model that hopefully will be rolled out across the country.
Homeground Services – one of Melbourne’s largest homelessness, housing and support agencies – aims to raise funds for services for the homeless and increase the supply of affordable housing.
RN interviewed landlord, Philip Endersbee, Managing Director of Wilderness Wear, who spoke of his two tenants in East Kew:
(i) A father and son who are African refugees
(ii) A man with an eight-year-old son who is the sort of person who just cannot handle being in front of people and could never go to a real estate agent.
“There are a lot of people out there, through no fault of their own, who are homeless…
The circumstances are such that they cannot just readily front up to a real estate agent because they just don’t tick the boxes. How do we bridge that and make these things available for them? That is what I saw when the concept was bounced off me and I thought I like that and I want to be part of it.”
Heather Holst, CEO of HomeGround Services, who deals with 10,000 people each year who are already homeless or at imminent risk of becoming so, says:
“If you are in a position to be able to offer us your property at a lower rent, your mortgage is in a good condition or you haven’t got one, we can match someone up…
We’ll take a lower commission to do that and we’ll make sure that your property is kept in good condition and available back to you when you need it…
If you have got a property that you would like a real estate agent to rent out for you, you can approach us and we can rent your property at a full market rent if that is what you need back, and the commission that you pay to us as real estate agents will cross subsidise the other activities of HomeGround.”
HomeGround already has a list of nine property owners who are keen to be involved in the affordable housing scheme.
The idea has attracted the attention of service providers in regional Victoria, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
A different kind of crowd-funding?