Sistema founder Brendan Lindsay's charitable organisation has put its weight behind Community Finance - a platform aimed at raising funds to build affordable homes for Kiwis in need.
The Lindsay Foundation has taken a 12.5 per cent stake in Community Finance and has stumped up with $5 million of a $40 million Salvation Army bond issue to finance the building of 188 homes in Royal Oak, Flatbush and Westgate.
The Salvation Army Community Bond - aimed at wholesale investors - offers 2 per cent per annum for five years, with investors beng paid quarterly. They do not carry a credit rating.
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Other shareholders in Community Finance include the Wilberforce Foundation, Christian Savings and the Matua Charitable Trust.
The company's board members include the Salvation Army's Major Campbell Roberts and economist Shamubeel Eaqub.
Community Finance general manager Paul Gilberd told the Herald the platform aims to match up investors with community housing providers.
"It's matching ethically minded money with community housing outcomes," Gilberd told the Herald.
The company is headed up by James Palmer, who is also chief executive of Christian Savings - a Reserve Bank-licensed non-bank deposit taker that lends to churches and charitable organisations.
Palmer says Community Finance is a "social enterprise" - hybrid organisations that trade goods and services to achieve social, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.
He said New Zealand community housing had fallen to just 3.6 per cent of the total housing stock compared with the OECD average of 6 per cent.
"While these not-for-profit organisations are doing a good job, they are not getting enough money to meet the need," Palmer said.
He said successive governments and the private sector had not been able to meet New Zealand's housing needs.
The community housing sector was also constrained by the higher margins charged by the banks.
Palmer said Community Finance works with community housing providers to undertake financial modelling, social impact assessments and credit analysis and if the project stacks up, the loan is approved.
The company acts as an intermediary with loans secured and managed through securitisation, to create a community bond aimed at wholesale investors and not the retail market.
Palmer said investors receive regular reports on the direct social impact of their investment as well as a financial return of between 2 to 2.5 per cent per annum - similar to the financial returns on corporate bonds and term deposits.
Lindsay sold his plastics container business Sistema for $660 million in 2016.
His foundation has been invovled in various community projects and investments since the sale.
Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) chief executive Scott Figenshow said the platform would be a valuable addition to the range of funding options for community housing providers.
"Access to capital and land are ongoing challenges for community housing providers so we are really glad to see the arrival of a company with strong connections in the sector and a commitment to the ethics and principles underpinning community housing," he said in a statement.
CHA's 90 provider members house about 25,000 people nationally across 13,000 homes.