Charity Golden Lane Housing (GLH) has been awarded £349,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop an innovative new social investment bond that aims to raise up to £30 million to invest in permanent homes for people with a learning disability (20th July 2012).

The bond will aim to offer a commercially-viable property investment with a direct social impact, funding housing for up to 250 people with a learning disability. GLH, the housing arm of learning disability charity Mencap, hopes it will create a new model for social investment within the charity and housing sectors.

GLH says it receives hundreds of enquires from people with a learning disability unable to access suitable housing.

Indeed, GLH says that a national shortage of social housing means many people with a learning disability struggle to find housing that meets their needs and are often offered housing that would mean them having to move away from friends and family, putting a greater burden on cash-strapped local authorities to provide formal paid support and in some cases putting people at risk of bullying and harassment.

The seed funding from the Big Lottery Fund will allow the bond offering to be fully developed by GLH prior to market launch in 2013.

The money will be used to develop and launch a property investment bond that, it is hoped, will attract around £100 of private finance investment for every £1 the Big Lottery Fund has contributed.

GLH then plans to invest the £30 million in purchasing or building new properties that people with a learning disability can rent, providing long-term housing as well as a financial and social return for investors.

Alastair Graham director of GLH, said: “People with a disability struggle to compete on the open market and can even be openly discriminated against, making it virtually impossible to find housing in some areas where social housing isn’t available.

“This innovative approach to financing housing will allow Golden Lane Housing to meet the growing need for supported living housing for people with a learning disability, transforming the lives of people who may otherwise be forced to become homeless, move away from areas they know or to live in unsuitable residential or institutional care homes.”