Program area:


Helping Women to be as Safe as Houses

31 Mar 2022

An impact investment loan from The Ross Trust to an innovative real estate agency is helping to improve the lives and futures of women and children in need.

In 2015, the Ross Trust provided an impact investment loan of $200,000 to Australia’s first social enterprise real estate agency, Property Initiatives Real Estate. 

The agency manages and sells properties and delivers the proceeds to its sister organisation, Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI).

WPI then uses the income to buy and build housing for low-cost rent by women in need, many of whom have escaped family violence. 

WPI chief executive Jeanette Large says the Ross Trust’s impact investment loan was crucial in kickstarting the real estate agency.

“It helped us buy our initial ‘rent roll’ of properties, which in turn helped grow the business,” she says. “We are now managing a number of properties and are a full-service real estate agency.

“All of our profits are used to provide high quality, secure and permanent homes for women and children facing homelessness – which can happen to anybody.

“It could be the result of the death of partner, a change in health, job loss, or mental health challenges. It can make an amazing difference if a woman is living in a secure, safe home, and that’s what we are addressing. We really believe our work is changing lives for the better.”

Jeanette said the low-interest loan provided by The Ross Trust was crucial to the plan.

“It was always a five-year business case with the aim to deliver a profit after six years and we’re so pleased that it is now delivering, especially considering the pandemic,” she says.  “It was just fantastic that the Ross Trust was willing to invest in our social enterprise and accept there would be no outcomes for five years or more.”

“We know that WPI tenants are reporting increased emotional wellbeing, employment, readiness for work, personal safety, and independence,” she says. “Being in a safe and secure home also helps women and children feel a sense of community.

“We’re really delighted this innovative plan is helping at-risk women and their children to have access to more affordable and stable housing.” says Ross Trust CEO Sarah Hardy.

WPI now owns more than 100 properties that it leases to women. As well as philanthropic grants, capital funding has been sourced from sources including the Office of Housing, the Victorian Property Fund, the Nation Building Initiative, community organisations and borrowings from Bank Australia and NAB. 

Read more about WPI.