Foundation seeds unique property-focused impact fund

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is among a number of investors involved in the launch of a new impact investment fund, Women in Safe Homes, which will support women experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the U.K.

The $7 billion foundation allocated £3.7 million ($5 million) to the new fund that is seeking to raise up to £100 million. The allocation is part of a larger portfolio of impact investments, an area where the Chicago-based foundation is a pioneer and has exposure totaling $500 million, according to its website.

The effort is headed up by Debra Schwartz, whose group serves as a resource at the foundation in creating impact investments that advance key goals. Her group also makes investments and grants that advance innovation, knowledge and connection throughout the impact investment ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Big Society Capital and others in supporting the Women in Safe Homes fund and its innovative model for meeting the critical housing needs of women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse, have been involved in the criminal justice system, or are experiencing homelessness,” said Schwartz, managing director of impact investments at the MacArthur Foundation.

Big Society, one of the U.K.’s leading social impact investors, provides financing to many frontline efforts to affect lasting change and helped back the management firm’s offering the newly launched £15.5 million fund.

Schwartz added that the investment is part of a portfolio her team has been building through its Catalytic Capital Consortium initiative.

The Women in Safe Homes investment fund was launched by real estate investor Patron Capital and social impact company Resonance. The fund is targeted to quickly scale to provide over 650 homes, the first of which will be purchased in January 2021. The impact property fund has set a target of £100 million in assets.

Patron and Resonance will purchase properties and lease them to women’s sector organizations and homeless charities which, in turn, will rent homes to women at risk of homelessness, with a secure tenancy.

“The case for impact investing has never been more relevant than it is right now, with the pandemic both exacerbating and shining a light on the societal issues that vehicles such as the Women in Safe Homes fund can look to address,” said Keith Breslauer, managing director of Patron Capital.

The European private equity real estate firm was launched by Breslauer in 1999. The group now has roughly €4 billion ($5 billion) in assets under management.

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