Impact project/investment of the year - real estate: Patron Capital - The Women in Safe Homes fund

Patron Capital’s Women in Safe Homes fund secured the award after being praised by one Impact Awards judge for its “highly innovative, impactful and needed” strategy dedicated to providing affordable homes to vulnerable women.Keith Breslauer

Launched in December 2020, the fund has already raised £24 million ($33 million) from investors – including seed capital from Big Society Capital and the MacArthur Foundation. The fund is targeting between £100 million and £200 million to provide 1,000 affordable homes to women who are survivors of domestic abuse, experiencing homelessness or ex-offenders – an investment focus that was applauded by another judge for its “clear target population and explicit strategy”.

Patron Capital’s managing director, Keith Breslauer, said one of the strengths of the investment strategy came from the fact that the fund was in development for two years before launch, a period in which the fund manager worked in collaboration with charities including Refuge, Safer Places and Nacro. “This means the fund’s impact is made from the outset, not as an afterthought,” he said.

“Identifying an area for investment is the easy part,” Breslauer added. “A lot of UK women are suffering from domestic abuse and are at risk of homelessness – undoubtedly, they need our help. But working out how to make a real difference is more complex: by working directly with charity partners, we’re able to make sure our impact is felt.”

As well as providing housing for these at-risk women, however, the fund also works with charities to ensure they also have access to the support services to rebuild their lives. This impressed another of the judges, who praised its “clear theory of change” that covers “not only basic needs, but also [the] human empowerment theme that ties to other impact themes”.

Breslauer said the biggest challenge for the fund has been to maintain “good” rental charges for charities whilst achieving attractive risk-adjusted returns for investors amid a market facing rising property prices. Nonetheless, he hopes the fund will “act as blueprint for other property fund managers looking to make a positive difference to society, whilst delivering strong fund performance”.