Patient Capital – a new approach to community investment

11th Nov, 2019

Understanding community investment differently

Take a minute to think of all things slow: slow radio, slow TV, slow food. A uniquely unhurried experience, allowing you to get off the merry go round of instant gratification. An experience which stays with you long after the event – the journey being as important as the destination.

Now translate that into a new way of investing – patient capital – and you see what community shares can offer investors. Think of putting your money somewhere where you get a return, but not in a rapid turnaround way: Where the journey of your investment takes the time it needs to create in a radical solution to local problems.

Yorspace community-led housing

This long term approach is at the heart of Yorspace, a York-based Community Land Trust providing co-operative housing in intentional communities. York is a beautiful city, but it hides a stark fact: According to a recent Post Office survey, there is no area considered affordable for first time buyers. This is creating a growing inter-generational disparity between those who own their own homes (typically the over 50s), and those who do not (typically the under 40s).

Yorspace has responded by planning a new community of 19 co-operatively owned homes for all ages. It will be built at Lowfield Green on the western edge of the City, and is due to start on site in early 2020. Lowfield will be made up of local people who would never be able to afford their own home in the current market, and whose future in the City depends on knowing they have secure tenure in forever affordable homes.

Yorspace launched its first Community Share Issue in September, aimed at raising a minimum of £365,000 towards building its first 19 homes and exploring options of developing others across the City.

Making patient capital work

Investing in Yorspace offers a 2.5% return after three years, and, as with any investment, investors can withdraw their money. With investment available for as little as £250, the chance to transform the lives of local people is within relatively easy reach for smaller investors, who automatically become Members of Yorspace, and therefore influence how the CLT operates. The main point is to keep money raised from investment over the long term, in order to maximise its impact.

This is where patient capital comes in: capital which can stay in one place over time, acting as a bedrock for affordability in the long term. This type of investment is slow burn, but can reap significant social dividends in future. It demands a new approach to investment, but one which is so much more satisfying for the investor, knowing they have made a real difference to the housing market in York.

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