In recent years Fresh Hope have found that there is an opportunity to work within our movement of churches to help position their excess land or housing stock (e.g. manses) for community housing.
This has led to the establishment of Fresh Hope Housing, which is the registered community housing provider within Fresh Hope. Dan Dwyer, Director Group Operations at Fresh Hope shared, “Fresh Hope Housing provides both a service that is much needed in the community and also—a potential revenue stream and ministry opportunity for churches.
It’s a diligent way to steward assets that are not currently being used to their full potential. One example of this in action is Platform 9 which provides community housing, crisis accommodation and transitional housing all functioning under the auspice of Fresh Hope Housing.
Platform 9 was birthed by Kingsway Community Church, a Church of Christ church in the Sutherland Shire and comes out of their community care arm ‘Kingsway Care’ and it’s a really fantastic service to the local community.”
The Kingsway Care website states, “In a community where privilege often covers the reality of vast pain, Kingsway Care exists to serve the social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the Sutherland Shire and surrounding regions.” Affordable housing is a practical way of helping the local community, which is an increasingly relevant issue—given the challenges that COVID-19 has had on people’s finances and living.
On the origins of Fresh Hope Housing, Dan shared, “Magnus Linder, who serves as the CEO of Churches Housing Inc, helped us develop Fresh Hope Housing a few years ago. He introduced us to Nightingale, who we are working with on the redevelopment of the Marrickville Church of Christ property. And more recently Magnus introduced us to Mark Khoo, Co-Founder and CEO of WelcomeMat—a new platform that we have invested in.”
Co-founded by Churches Housing – the peak body for faith based affordable and community housing providers in NSW – and a social impact investor, WelcomeMat is a tenant-matching portal for affordable rental housing.
The WelcomeMat website and platform, which was launched in early September, has been designed to provide a more accessible and equitable system for those seeking affordable rental housing, and to deliver efficiencies and cost savings for housing providers. They have created a streamlined application process which means that more people who require community housing can find affordable rental home more quickly.
Through the website, potential tenants can choose their preferred area and look at photos of apartments much like traditional methods securing rental accommodation. WelcomeMat prequalify tenants—they do the income assessments, checking eligibility which makes the process a lot more efficient for community and affordable housing.
WelcomeMat has a highly experienced board and management team whose expertise covers housing and social services, government, technology design and delivery, law, online portal communications and marketing.
The board consists of two familiar faces to Fresh Hope staff—Dan Dwyer and Chief Financial Officer, Scott Griffiths. Scott shared, “Our relationship and investment into WelcomeMat provides a great opportunity for Fresh Hope to play an active role in connecting affordable housing providers with those looking for affordable accommodation.
This will deliver a great financial and social return and will enable Fresh Hope to learn more about the affordable housing industry through direct investment and partnering with some of Australia’s largest affordable housing providers.” He added, “Fresh Hope will play a key role in shaping the development of this innovative solution and will ultimately benefit Fresh Hope’s future affordable housing developments in terms of sourcing tenants of most need.”
Matt Young, the Manager of Fresh Hope Properties & Projects said, “As a lower level, tier three affordable house provider, we are still in the early stages of establishing relationships, but the opportunity for partnership with local churches, councils and organisations like WelcomeMat to reach their community in a tailored and practical way is very exciting.”
Andrew Ball, Executive Ministry Director added, “Fresh Hope is delighted to become a key supporter and investor in WelcomeMat. Within the wider Sydney district, availability of affordable housing for those in need is critical and WelcomeMat is an important new venture that will assist matching housing stock with demand. Fresh Hope has always sought to value-add local communities and through this initiative we are expressing our values in helping to serve the poor and needy. We are incredibly privileged to serve in this way and use our resources on the coal face to help make a difference.”
Dan added, “Through our partnership with WelcomeMat, we will have the opportunity to gain access to knowledge, experience and audiences that we wouldn’t otherwise have exposure to—which will then in turn inform our operations in this space.”
The potential of Fresh Hope Housing is hugely exciting and we will keep you up to date on MyFreshHope with the latest developments, in the meantime, for more on Marrickville and other projects, look here.
If you have friends or family that might benefit from the WelcomeMat services, simply click here.