Australian not for profit real estate CEO in Chicago for homeless conference

1 June 2015

A leading Australian homelessness agency, HomeGround Services, is pioneering a move into the real estate business as a way to help end homelessness in one of the nation’s largest capital cities.

The organisation’s CEO Dr Heather Holst is in Chicago to take part in the ‘Homelessness in a Global Landscape’ conference at De Paul University from 1-2 June 2015.

Dr Holst says HomeGround Real Estate is a “one of a kind not for profit real estate agency” that reinvests property management fees into housing people on low incomes in Melbourne, capital city of the state of Victoria.

Since launching in March 2014 the agency has over 200 properties on its books and is providing housing solutions for people at risk of homelessness through an affordable housing initiative.

“We manage properties for landlords at market rent but also give them the opportunity to list their property at an affordable rental so that we can house women and children leaving family violence and people who have been forced out of the private rental market,” Dr Holst says.

Australia has over 100,000 people recorded as homeless, despite being a wealthy nation. “On any given night in Australia one in 200 people are homeless. In our state of Victoria the figures are almost 23,000. It is totally unacceptable that a country as wealthy as Australia can’t find solutions to house everyone,” Dr Holst said.

Dr Holst says Australian agencies are looking to the success stories in the United States where homelessness is decreasing. “We are watching with interest the gradual decline in homelessness in many states across the US. I know there is a long way to go in ending homelessness here but you have strong federal leadership and buy in from the states which is something we would like to see happen in Australia.”

Social enterprises like HomeGround Real Estate will play a crucial role in efforts to end homelessness in Australia according to Dr Holst.

“We are dealing with declining federal and state investment in public and social housing at a time when rental prices are soaring in our capital cities in Australia,” she said. “So it is really important to look at how we can encourage property owners to help solve this problem and get involved in affordable housing initiatives offered by agencies like HomeGround.”

Dr Holst is available for media interview and can be contacted by email while in Chicago at [email protected] and she can provide a telephone number or attend a studio interview.

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