You are here

What is Social Purpose Real Estate?

SPRE refers to property and facilities owned and operated by mission-based organizations and investors for the purpose of community benefit, and to achieve blended value returns.

Some examples of Social Purpose Real Estate include:

  • an immigrant-serving not-for profit that owns and occupies its own facility;
  • a group of Foundations and mission-investors that buy and redevelop a property for the purpose of providing affordable space to community organizations
  • group of cultural organizations that co-locate in a private sector building with a long-term lease or option to purchase
  • for other examples in social purpose real estate, check out the SPRE Case Study & Space Profile webpages!

Why Social Purpose Real Estate?

Increasingly, not-for-profit and mission-based organizations are facing significant challenges in finding and maintaining secure, appropriate and affordable spaces for their programs, services and administrative offices. This challenge threatens the sustainability of these organizations, limits access to needed services, and weakens community vitality.

By building capacity of not-for-profit organizations, funders, government, investors and real estate professionals, to advance social purpose real estate we can strengthen our communities through:

  • enhancing the sustainability, capacity and assets of the not-for-profit sector, including financial, social, and built capital. Supporting ownership can allow organizations to build equity and leverage resources, experience cost savings, ensure more secure tenancy, and can foster greater collaboration among organizations sharing space.
  • maintaining and securing community-owned assets to better meet community social, cultural, economic and environmental needs. By preserving and growing the stock of property and spaces available for, and dedicated, to community benefit and service, we can ensure that quality spaces remain available to, and affordable for, community organizations, in the appropriate neighbourhoods and locations.
  • contributing to the revitalization of divested communities or neighbourhoods. By supporting organizations to purchase and/or renovate property we can contribute to economic and social revitalization of these neighbourhoods without displacement of residents and services.
  • leveraging capital to achieve blended returns. Foundations, mission-based investors and financial institutions can make investments in social purpose real estate that can further social or environmental goals, enhance community impact, and provide financial returns.

‚ÄčSocial purpose real estate encompasses facilities whether owned, rented, leased or licensed, that provide space for the vast array of not-for-profits and social enterprises that serve our society. These include: arts & culture groups and artists; health, community & social service organizations; environmental groups; childcare; advocacy organizations; co-working/co-location and shared spaces; space developers and providers; faith-based places of worship and other community service organizations that provide space for community; and mixed use non-market/affordable housing with spaces for community and services for residents.