The Big Issue's New Social Enterprise
16 July 2013 at 1:12 pm
Not for Profit street-publication, The Big Issue is taking on a challenge to achieve generational change with the launch of a new social enterprise tackling Australia’s ‘most significant issue’ of increasing homelessness.
The Big Issue CEO Steven Persson said the new social enterprise, Homes for Homes will focus on generational change through the creation of a ‘big society’ as a new approach to combat homelessness.
The notion of big society sees people joining forces to improve lives and strengthen society with a focus on empowering local communities and individuals to create change.
The Homes for Homes model is based on a voluntary scheme which will see developers, home owners, real estate agents, mortgage lenders and landlords contribute a portion of housing traction when a property is sold or leased.
Persson said people could nominate the percentage of the sale price that they wished to donate, and it would be tax free.
“This money will go into a fund which will, in time, create tailored housing developments according to the needs of each community.”
As one of the longest running social enterprises, Persson said The Big Issue was well equipped to take on this new challenge and was very aware of the long road ahead.
“We are taking the approach of a term that we are starting to use more and more, of the big society,” he said.
“We are very good at social enterprise and we understand social enterprise – we are very good at business, we firmly believe in this.
“This has the potential to be the most significant social enterprise in Australia.”
The Homes for Homes project essentially takes on the role of ‘capturing’ and distributing the money towards housing in the most transparent way, Persson said.
Persson said The Big Issue was already engaged with some big players in the banking and housing sectors and had based their model on a proven model that has been successful overseas.
He said it could be between four and five years before Homes for Homes builds its first house.
Once in full swing, the program had the potential to create “hundreds and hundreds of millions” of dollars in housing, Persson said.
Persson acknowledged the work being done by a number of Government and community organisations to combat homelessness and said the problem was expected to “explode” in the coming years.
“It is just too big for one party to solve,” he said.
“This is about what is needed in a community.
“I think organisations like us have a responsibility to look beyond that three to four year political cycle.
“If it was easy to fix this problem, it would have been done by now.
“Money raised in each State will stay in each State.
“It is going to be driven by the need.
The project received $500,000 in Federal Government funding yesterday.
It has also had the support of philanthropic organisations.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Homelessness Senator Doug Cameron said The Big Issue had a long history of raising awareness of homelessness, and supporting vulnerable people in turning their lives around.
“We believe all Australians deserve a safe, secure home, and we will continue to work to provide affordable housing for Australia’s most vulnerable people,” he said.