International legal practice Osborne Clarke has advised Big Society Capital, the UK’s leading social impact investor, on its investment The Women In Safe Homes fund, believed to be the world’s first gender-lens property fund.

The Women In Safe Homes Fund is a new social impact property fund which has been created by leading property investor, Patron Capital, and social impact investment company, Resonance. The Fund is targeted to quickly scale and reach a fund size of £100 million. US based John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation and Patron MD Keith Breslauer are co-investors alongside Big Society Capital.

The Fund has been created as a solution to the lack of affordable, safe and secure homes for women who are experiencing homelessness, have been involved with the criminal justice system, are survivors of domestic abuse or have other complex needs.

The Fund aims to provide around 650 affordable homes across the UK. The first of which will be purchased by the end of the year.  It will purchase properties and lease them to the women’s sector and homelessness charities which, in turn, will rent homes to women at risk of homelessness, with a secure tenancy. At the same time, charity partners such as Preston Road Women’s Centre and Nacro will provide specialist and housing support to help women recover from abusive or difficult circumstances enabling them to find stability and rebuild their lives, and to be able to sustain their tenancies.

The aim is to attract institutional, pension fund and professional investors in the UK and internationally, who will not only be attracted by the potential of a financial return from rent and capital appreciation, but also the strong focus on achieving substantial positive social impact by supporting women in challenging circumstances.

The Fund is seeking to support charity partners and registered providers that are looking to gain access to safe and affordable homes for women that they support.

Osborne Clarke acted for Big Society Capital pro bono. The team was led by Partner Tim Simmonds from Osborne Clarke's Funds practice, with assistance from Alison Riddle and Lizette Hunter.

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