Bridges launches Teesside affordable homes for rent venture

By Paul Norman - Thursday, February 08, 2018 15:00

Bridges Evergreen Holdings has launched The Ethical Housing Company, a property venture targeting a portfolio of affordable homes for rent in Teesside.

The Ethical Housing Company (ethicalhousing.co.uk) will buy one to three bedroom properties in the region, focusing initially on Redcar, Cleveland and the neighbouring boroughs. Through its partner The Ethical Lettings Agency, it will then rent the properties out to people in housing need, including those on benefits, over the long term.

Bridges said: "A lack of other suitable housing means vulnerable people often need to rely on the private rental sector for their accommodation. All too often, they face substandard living conditions, with landlords and agencies ill-equipped to support their needs - which leads to unstable tenancies and a risk of homelessness.

"There are now an estimated 4.5m people living in poverty in private rented accommodation in the UK, a total that has increased by circa 80% since 2007. In Redcar and Cleveland alone, there are an estimated 1,568 households assessed as needing affordable housing, 1,529 of which are currently in private rented accommodation, with an estimated 48% of current private rented households in receipt of Local Housing Allowance/Universal Credit to help pay rental costs."

Social entrepreneur Carla Keegans established TELA two years ago as a community interest company in her home town of Redcar. Keegans, who has previously held senior roles in the local authority housing sector, continues to lead TELA, and will serve as the Director of EHC.

Carla Keegans, Director of The Ethical Housing Company, said: "I've seen from my work with The Ethical Lettings Agency that there's a real shortage of decent homes to rent for people on low incomes in Teesside. Evergreen’s long-term approach and impact focus makes them the ideal partner to build a property company that will increase the supply of well-maintained, affordable homes available to those in need, while maintaining our commitment to benefit local communities and housing markets.”

Evergreen is a permanent capital vehicle managed by specialist impact investor Bridges Fund Management. It has earmarked an initial £5m to support the launch, with an ambition to scale beyond this over time into other areas of the UK. Bridges' Scott Greenhalgh will join both the EHC and TELA boards as a Non-Executive Director.

Scott Greenhalgh, Chairman of Bridges Evergreen Holdings, said: “We hope the cooperation between The Ethical Housing Company and The Ethical Lettings Agency will demonstrate a model that can be used and replicated to address one of the most pressing challenges facing the UK: the lack of decent, affordable homes for rent. If we get this right, we have an opportunity to deliver significant long-term impact in Teesside and, over time, beyond.”

Bridges has extensive experience in property and housing.

It has raised over £500m across four property investment funds, two of which have made substantial investments in lower-cost housing in Greater London. It has also now funded six social outcomes contracts commissioned by central and local Government with the aim of preventing or reducing homelessness.

The Ethical Property Company was launched officially in Redcar this week, with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen also endorsing the initiative as a catalyst for change in the local area.

Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley, said: “The Ethical Housing Company will invest millions into the Tees Valley housing market, to provide decent rented housing. It’s excellent that this innovative company is starting in the Tees Valley and I look forward to working with them over the coming years.”

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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