Profit with purpose: Affordable housing can be a positive disruptor
Providing housing for low-income households in the United Kingdom has a rich history.
While first rooted back in medieval times, it was during the industrial revolution that investment in what we now call “social” or “affordable” housing truly grew to cope with the influx of workers to urban centres. Philanthropically-inclined industrialists, such as George Peabody and William Sutton, saw the bleak conditions that the Victorian working poor endured in London and so created donation funds with a focus on building quality affordable housing.
Thanks to the 1919 Housing and Town Planning Act, however, when we think of social and affordable housing today in the United Kingdom, we often think of local councils. In response to deteriorated housing stock and shifts in demand, the Act marked the start of a comprehensive plan for councils to build social housing — and build they did, constructing more than 125,000 social-rented homes each year over three decades, growi