WelcomeMat is the new online platform bringing property seekers and affordable rental housing providers together. Affordable rental housing is for people with incomes that are very low, low or moderate and the rent for these studios, units and houses are at least 20% less than market rent.
As a board member of Churches Housing Inc, the peak body for faith-based housing providers in NSW, Mark Khoo saw that affordable housing is often confused with public/social housing, and there is not enough public awareness about the different eligibility criteria across various affordable housing programs. Up to 60% of applications are from people who are ineligible and each application can take up to 2-3 hours for the housing provider to process.
In 2018, Mark and others in the WelcomeMat team, set about creating a solution for this problem and developed a streamlined application process that is the spine of WelcomeMat’s much needed service.
Mark, CEO and Co-Founder of WelcomeMat said, “We want to deliver equitable access for all housing applicants, provide efficiencies to the housing providers and collect data for advocacy, town planning and development of more supply.”
Since ideation stage the social impact startup has garnered wide support from industry leaders. A number of community housing providers purchased presales of listings in advance, to help with funding and one of their customers, Fresh Hope, invested as an impact investor in their capital raise.
Mark said, “I think our biggest success has been gaining wide industry support. We are a startup that is co-owned by members of the community housing sector, and I am very grateful that WelcomeMat has been able to get the support of industry peak bodies, community housing providers, tenant-advocacy groups and key worker unions. Many participated in the co-design of our platform, and have committed to using our service.”
Aiming for a soft launch in September 2020, WelcomeMat will focus first on Sydney Metro, Central Coast and the Hunter regions, with expansion into the rest of NSW and then nationally to follow.
Mark said, “All of us at WelcomeMat are looking forward to helping many applicants under housing stress find affordable rental housing through our service. I know a fair few of us in the startup sector are also on very low to moderate incomes and would be eligible, so if we can help our startup colleagues reduce their housing stress, all the better!”