Funding boost for three startups working to end homelessness with Crisis
Three startups developing innovative solutions to tackle one of the biggest and most persistent social challenges – homelessness - have received a funding boost from national homelessness charity Crisis’ Venture Studio. This will help expand the charity’s work towards ending homelessness across Great Britain and brings its startup investment portfolio to six companies.
Bridge Housing Solutions, Primary Finance and Urban Intelligence will benefit from investment and support from Venture Studio from Crisis, which works with startups that provide different solutions to help prevent and end homelessness. This is the second round of investments made by Crisis’ Venture Studio team which launched in 2020, thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded by Postcode Support Trust and Crisis’ philanthropists.
Bridge Housing Solutions has developed technology to match people in temporary accommodation with available social housing. People stuck in temporary accommodation endure cramped, unsuitable conditions, often without their own washing or cooking facilities and with families forced to live in one room. Recent research shows that the number of people in temporary accommodation in England has increased by 74% in the last ten years. Nichola and Priscilla, the company founders, hope their new technology will help people move into their own home more quickly by making it easier to find out about potential homes across the country. They’re aiming to house over 1,000 people this year.
Primary Finance is an ethical home financing company, following Islamic finance practices, set up with the aim of providing people with a debt-free path to home ownership. Their innovative business model enables individuals to sell their equity share back to Primary Finance at the price they bought it. This in effect creates an ‘equity buffer’ and provides housing stability for people going through uncertain times. So far, on average, Primary Finance’s customers have built up an equity buffer equating to four years of rent, giving four more years of housing stability in uncertain times, compared to up to six months of a mortgage holiday provided by a standard mortgage lender.
Urban Intelligence combines data and planning expertise in an online planning tool to help local authorities identify and prioritise sites with the greatest potential for providing housing that meets the needs and demands in the local area. The current lack of affordable housing leaves people experiencing homelessness unable to move on with their lives. Founder of Urban Intelligence, Daniel Mohamed, has experienced homelessness himself and is passionate about solving this shortage with his technology. They will supply planning teams with access to data showing how many affordable homes can be delivered at potential sites, helping planning officers to more effectively challenge applications without sufficient provision.
The investment from Venture Studio from Crisis will support each company to further develop their technology and products, as well as expand their reach, so they can prevent or end homelessness for more people.
These new investments come as Crisis launches This Venture Fund Ends Homelessness, a new £20m philanthropic venture fund aiming to attract new funders to invest in over 70 startups over 10 years to help accelerate the drive towards ending homelessness. They’ve also celebrated the successes of the past year in their impact report, including the progress of Agile Homes and Lanu, the businesses which received the first investments from Venture Studio in autumn 2021. Both are working to transform existing sites and housing to provide affordable homes. So far, Agile Homes has 14 projects in progress, delivering 89 homes, with a further 172 homes in the pipeline, while Lanu has analysed over 300 homes for potential development. GoodPAYE also received investment from Venture Studio. They raise funds for charities through payroll giving and are aiming to generate over £150m by 2030 to go towards supporting organisations including Crisis.
Nichola Fahey, co-founder of Bridge Housing Solutions, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Crisis and collaborating across our areas of expertise. We want to end homelessness by helping more people into their own home and out of the uncertainty of temporary accommodation by providing up to the minute information about the homes available. We know how detrimental it is for people trapped in temporary accommodation, living in unsuitable conditions and unable to move on with their lives. The investment from Venture Studio will make a real difference, helping us develop our app so we can help more people move out of homelessness.”
Raza Ullah, who established Primary Finance in 2016 after leaving his job at the Bank of England, said: “We're very aware that financial stress and debt can lead to homelessness. At Primary Finance, we aim to tackle this by providing a debt-free way for people to own their own home. Our unique equity buffer mechanism is one of the key features of our product, which protects people from losing their home if there’s a sudden loss of income. We're hoping this buffer will help provide security and stability, and in turn, reduce homelessness. We’re excited about using the investment from Crisis to further develop what we do and help more people into their own home, in a sustainable way.”
Daniel Mohamed, CEO and Founder of Urban Intelligence, said: “The investment from Venture Studio will help Urban Intelligence to continue growing and work with more local authorities. I experienced homelessness growing up and this first-hand experience has made me even more determined to work towards ending homelessness. Having a safe, secure and affordable place to live is essential for wellbeing and gives people the foundation from which to build their lives. As Urban Intelligence joins forces with Crisis, I’m hugely excited for the future and the work we can do together to end homelessness.”
Liz Choonara, Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Crisis, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Bridge Housing Solutions, Primary Finance and Urban Intelligence through the Venture Studio. As cost of living pressures increase, more and more households are being pushed to the brink and into homelessness – but the solutions to prevent this from happening are known. We urgently need more affordable housing as well as support to help people keep their homes when they are at risk of losing them. These startups are thinking big and bold, creating the conditions needed to help either prevent or alleviate homelessness.
“These new investments have been made possible thanks to the generous support of Crisis’ philanthropists and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. All three companies offer tech-driven, innovative solutions which will help to prevent homelessness. The combination of their expertise and tech with Crisis’ in-depth knowledge and understanding of the multiple root causes of homelessness, will create a strong partnership and we are excited about what we can achieve together.”
Established by Crisis in 2020, Venture Studio focuses on different ways homelessness can be prevented and ended through investment and a sharing of expertise with startups across the country.
Visit Venture Studio from Crisis for more information. Anyone interested in donating to the £20m fund can email firstname.lastname@example.org.