Techô, a social socimi is born to alleviate homelessness in Spain
Let’s start with some devastating data: the number of homeless people in Spain has grown by 24.5% in the last 10 years, to 28,552 people, while there are an estimated 3.4 million empty homes. Andalusia, the Basque Country and Castile and Leon have the highest increase in homelessness in the country.
More data: to put an end to homelessness (according to the European Commission, homelessness usually includes situations of vulnerability, insecurity or poor quality housing and the most frequent causes that lead people to suffer from this type of situation are related to poverty, unemployment, migration…), 1.2 billion euros would be needed, according to the report drawn up by the consultancy firm EY.
It seems more than obvious and logical that having a home helps to heal the rest of the wounds: the comfort of a home can help to alleviate other complex situations and the social entities that collaborate with these almost 30,000 people say so: “First, a home and then with the stability of a house you can work on the rest of the deficiencies”, says Blanca Hernández, president of the social socimi techô.
But what is techô? In a nutshell, it is a very ambitious project that aims to put an end to homelessness and brings together social entities, family offices, large companies, etc. People from different fields who want to solve a huge social problem.
“In a country with almost 3.5 million empty houses, homelessness is the most important social problem in our society. At the same time, administrations and impact investors have funds available to support NGOs with empty house rentals capable of getting homeless people off the streets. With these premises, we at techô are very proud to have developed a real estate business solution, launching an impact investment vehicle to alleviate this situation”, according to Hernández.
That’s the first success, creating a transparent investment vehicle. “We want to provide a business and impact investment response to the problem of homelessness. Philanthropy alone will not solve things, nobody was going to give us houses for free, so we devised an investment vehicle, and that is when the Socimi social arose, which are very efficient, very rigorous vehicles that provide comfort to the investor,” explains Hernández.
What does techô do? It buys homes so that social entities working with vulnerable and homeless groups can provide them with a roof over their heads, for which social rent is paid.
“We are at a time when we want to recycle everything, there is an obsession with recycling, so we are going to recycle housing. We are going to recover those houses that are empty, we are going to revitalise the neighbourhoods, neighbourhoods where there is already a lot of associative fabric, there is a lot of diversity… I am not saying that Techo will not support other construction projects if they are necessary, but the first objective is to buy houses that have already been built, recycle them and improve them”, he explains.
IPO in February 2024
There are institutional investors, private investors and a lot of family offices (the majority, 80% of the socimi’s investors). Hernández gives some names: Azora, Renta4, Tresis, the consultancy firm EY, but there are many more… “In total there are about 100 investors. The committed investment is 29 million euros and 25 million have already been disbursed”. They have just completed their latest capital increase and their plan is to “go public, on BME Growth, at the beginning of February. Renta4 is leading the IPO”, she explains.
As she herself acknowledges, philanthropy does not solve everything, so what does the impact investor gain? “Part of that social rent. Our rents are 25%-30% below market. We ask the social entities that manage the flats to dignify the group they deal with; they must have a methodology that combines housing with accompaniment, there must be a personalised itinerary with the user. In addition, the social entity is the one that operates the flat and has to report to measure the impact (how many people live in that house, how many return to training, how many get a job…)”.
Hernández expects the socimi to be profitable for two reasons. On the one hand, “because all the companies that are providing their management services do so, we do so on a not-for-profit basis, providing services pro bono or with significant discounts. And, on the other hand, because the social entities pay their rent. This makes it possible for the socimi to be profitable.
In addition to this tool, they have also created a foundation with the same name, techô. “If we all work together, we can find solutions to major social problems,” he concludes.