Rising rents and a significant shortfall in social housing has left many Australians without a safe, appropriate, and accessible home and, according to Census data, homelessness is worsening across Australia.

Despite the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to fund 50,000 new social and affordable housing properties over five years, a social housing shortfall remains for around 125,000 people, some of whom have been on the waiting list for more than 10 years, while many others are living in unaffordable or inappropriate housing.

Bridging some of this gap is Conscious Investment Management (CIM), Australia’s largest non-bank financier of social housing. CIM works in genuine partnership with Community Housing Providers to identify, acquire, and provide social housing across Australia.

PRF invested in CIM’s first Social Housing Fund in 2021, providing a cornerstone investment in the first privately funded social housing in Australia. Social Housing Fund I, which operates exclusively in Victoria, has housed more than 400 people to date, across 260 dwellings, including Lee-Anne, who was born with a mild intellectual disability.

A successful dog-groomer, Lee-Anne never thought she’d be able to afford to live independently, and lived with her parents well into her twenties before they sold the family home. Now 27, Lee-Anne lives in a place of her own in Box Hill, a property acquired through CIM’s Social Housing Fund I.

“It’s the first time I have lived by myself, and it was a bit challenging at first,” says Lee-Anne.

“Now I feel like I am independent and don’t have to rely on my parents so much.”

In 2023, PRF became anchor investor in CIM’s second Social Housing Fund which will operate across Australia and anticipates providing housing for 800 people who are on the social housing waitlist.

The ability of philanthropy to invest in this way is critical in leveraging further capital and unlocking innovative approaches to often complex and expensive social issues.

PRF’s Head of Impact Investing, Ben Smith says, “CIM has developed an excellent track record over the last four years, demonstrating both impact and financial returns.

“CIM’s Social Housing Fund II offers an exciting opportunity to employ CIM’s model nationally which will result in even more Australians having access to housing.”

To date, PRF has invested $60 million in CIM across the two Social Housing Funds and CIM’s Summer Housing Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) fund.

CIM’s Chief Investment Officer Matthew Tominc says, “PRF’s support has been invaluable for CIM. PRF brings much more than capital to its investments, but also advice, structuring expertise, and connections.

“Impact investing is an emerging sector in Australia, and PRF’s values alignment has absolutely let us invest and grow with the authenticity we aimed for.”

This story first appeared in our 2023 Annual Review