Impact Report 2022—2023

Brunswick Block – the Best of Both Worlds 

Thanks to Andrew and Glenda’s generosity, Melbourne’s affordable housing stock in Brunswick has increased.  

Four years ago, the couple were on a quest to start up an apartment block modelled on social housing. Very quickly, they realised managing the properties themselves would be a big task, and so the idea was put on hold.   

Andrew and Glenda had long been supporters of Launch Housing and became aware of our ethical real estate agency, HomeGround Real Estate.  

HomeGround is a social enterprise agency established by Launch Housing, providing premium property management services for property owners and renters in Melbourne while creating impact through reinvesting 100% of profits back into Launch Housing.  

Andrew and Glenda generously offered their small apartment block nestled in Brunswick on a peppercorn lease to HomeGround for a period of ten years, receiving just $1 in rental income.  Modelled after federal social housing policies, rental rates do not exceed 30% of a tenant’s income. 

This partnership is contributing to wider change by helping to increase the volume of affordable housing in Melbourne.  It was a no-brainer for the couple. 

“There are two big wins – one is you’ve got more affordable accommodation out there, and two is the income that is generated goes into helping people who are experiencing homelessness. Because of that last bit, your investment quadruples really.” Andrew tells us. 

“Sure, you don’t get any capital return, but you do get capital growth. You also have no headaches of managing the property.” 

Desire to give back to the community

The idea arose from Andrew and Glenda’s growing awareness and concern for people experiencing our housing crisis. 

“We started to think about accommodation.  We’re more aware of how hard it is especially for older women who face a break-up or violence. They go from being secure to being left with almost nothing at time when it’s harder to earn money,” Andrew says 

“Housing is just so critical. I think more and more about the destruction of people’s lives when they suddenly find themselves in need of accommodation and don’t have it. It just wrecks them. So, we thought we could do something about this – plus, we like creating things.” 

Thoughtful and sustainable renovations

Brunswick was a natural choice for the new apartment block, which the couple renovated before renting out through HomeGround.  

“One day, we came in off Sydney Road and just had a look around. There are some awesome little shops and pubs. Before Covid, we even checked out the Brunswick Ballroom a couple of times. It’s such a lively and vibrant place.” 

The quality of their renovation was key.  “I’ve always been drawn to good or better. I think, why should someone have to live in a basic place when we can create something special or something that makes it nice to live in?” Andrew explains. 

Their renovation was focused on creating a comfortable and energy-efficient space for people on a low-income. The modern design features private courtyards, a communal outdoor area and garden space, external electric blinds, well-designed kitchens, and layouts which maximize space and comfort. All thoughtful design touches which will likely lead to lower power bills for residents. 

“That’s why we pulled all the windows out and put in double glazing. It’s not just energy-efficient; they’re also quiet and they create a calm feeling. We’ve got solar on the roof, and we’ve got communal power – so it will be great to see that all in use,” Andrew says. 

The property is now housing several Launch Housing clients. Andrew and Glenda’s vision has become a reality. And because of HomeGround Real Estate, the couple don’t have to worry about the nitty gritty of managing their property.  

Their philanthropic effort serves as an example of what can be achieved when people come together to address the critical shortage of affordable housing in Melbourne.  

Portions of this article were originally published on the HomeGround Real Estate website under the title “Peppercorn Block In Brunswick The Best Of Both Worlds”.

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