Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

RESEARCH | Social Purpose Real Estate Definitions

In continuing the train of thought from the recent post on Social Purpose Real Estate, some of the terms and ideas presented are unpacked and defined here. These definitions, sourced from reliable sources on the web, provide some frameworks for further thinking about the links between social purpose and real estate investment and development:

Community ownership of buildings and land can transform even the most struggling community –  energising local people and providing the long term foundation for enterprise and renewal. There are hundreds of examples where derelict or underused town halls, schools, warehouses, pubs, office blocks and wasteland have been transformed from a blight and a liability into a thriving community asset – delivering services and amenities for local people and generating revenue which can be reinvested to achieve further social benefits
Cited in: http://foresters.org.au/u/lib/mob/20131112142936_b29c22b82bb3a35ee/2011_communityassetbuildingresourceguide.pdf

Responsible Property Investment (RPI)
Responsible Property Investment (RPI) is an approach to property investing that recognises environmental and social considerations along with more conventional financial objectives. It goes beyond minimum legal requirements, to improving the environmental or social performance of property, through strategies such as urban revitalization, or the conservation of natural resources. The key to managing and monitoring progress on these issues is the implementation of systems for measuring and benchmarking building and portfolio performance. RPI should be implemented from the property planning, design, and development stages and continually practiced throughout the property lifecycle, through the following examples:

  • Developing or acquiring properties designed with environmentally and socially positive attributes (e.g. low-income housing or green buildings)
  • Refurbishing properties to improve their environmental and social performance (e.g. energy efficiency, on site power generation, disability upgrades, natural light exploitation or other environmentally and socially responsible improvements)
  • Managing properties in environmentally and socially beneficial ways (e.g. Green Leases, resource use and waste & recycling Benchmarking Practices to improve performance, fair labour practices for service workers or simply using environmentally friendly cleaning methods and products)
  • Demolishing properties in a conscientious manner (e.g. reusing recovered materials on-site for new development)

Source: http://www.unepfi.org/work-streams/property/rpi/
See also: http://www.unpri.org/areas-of-work/implementation-support/property/

Equitable Development
Equitable development is an approach to creating healthy, vibrant, communities of opportunity. Equitable outcomes come about when smart, intentional strategies are put in place to ensure that everyone can participate in and benefit from decisions that shape their neighborhoods and regions.
Source: http://policylink.org/equity-tools/equitable-development-toolkit/about-toolkit

PolicyLink in the USA has produced an Equitable Development Toolkit that includes 27 tools to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization.
Source: http://policylink.org/equity-tools/equitable-development-toolkit/about-toolkit

Community Benefits Agreement
These are not common in Australia but perhaps they need to be part of the planning and development environment.
A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a project-specific agreement between a developer and a broad community coalition that details the project’s contributions to the community and ensures community support for the project. Addressing a range of community issues, properly structured CBAs are legally binding and directly enforceable by the signatories.
Source: http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/resources/policy-tools-community-benefits-agreements-and-policies

See also my article about Community Benefits Agreements at http://flytrapper.yolasite.com/community_benefits.php

Community Land Trusts
Community Land Trusts are powerful examples of communities taking control and transforming the future of their local community. They are non-profit, community-based organisations run by volunteers that develop housing, workspaces, community facilities or other assets that meet the needs of the community, are owned and controlled by the community and are made available at permanently affordable levels.
Source: http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/About-CLTs

Housing Cooperatives
Housing coops are a form of tenant controlled housing. A Housing Co-operative is a group of people with a common interest to work together to maintain and manage housing for its members. Members perform landlord roles (e.g. tenancy, rent, maintenance) and business roles (e.g. administration, bookkeeping). Membership requires significant ongoing commitment, including attending monthly and other meetings and actively participating in the management of the Co-operative. Each Co-operative manages its own member and tenant selection processes.
Source: http://www.chcsa.org.au/what-community-housing-co-operative

Community Asset Building
Community Asset Building is centred on ownership of physical assets (usually property) by incorporated community groups and associations. Ownership of assets means that organisations can build financial independence, leverage greater community benefits, and develop capacity to build a sustainable long-term future, reducing overall dependence on external sources of income.
Source: http://foresters.org.au/u/lib/mob/20131112142936_b29c22b82bb3a35ee/2011_communityassetbuildingresourceguide.pdf


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