Who says one person is powerless to push back against the domestic violence scourge? What about eight people? And who says they cannot make money while doing it? When Kim Macdonald, The West Australian’s property editor, wanted to do something to help vulnerable women she considered her skill set — her knowledge of Perth’s property market, her contacts, the years as a journalist that had convinced her most people want to help others — and came up with a plan. The idea was simple: buy a house and rent it cheaply to a woman escaping domestic violence. With a savvy-enough purchase, the house would appreciate and she could ultimately sell it for a profit. In WA, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness and many are forced to stay with their abusers because they have nowhere to go. But the first obstacle was a big one: Ms Macdonald did not have the money to buy a property by herself. So she set about trying to connect with like-minded investors: people who wanted to put their money to good use, while also — hopefully — making money. The result was an eight-person investment group, who collectively raised $400,000 — individuals put in between $25,000 and $100,000 — and expect to settle on a four-bedroom home in the inner east next week. That home will be leased at a well-below-market-rate rent — $475 a week compared to $700/week — to a woman with three children, who are currently sharing one room at a women’s refuge. The plan is to lease her the property for seven to 10 years, then sell at a profit. “It’s a win-win situation,” Macdonald said. “The woman gets a home she otherwise would not have got amid the rental crisis. “The investors take a slight shortfall on the rent, but get a raft of freebies as well as a great medium-term investment.” Finding people to help was key to helping trim the costs for investors. High-profile property investor Gavin Hegney donated his time to help Macdonald find a suitable property; Soco Real Estate offered discount rental management; Lance Wainwright, of SBN Building Contractors did a free building inspection and Absolutely Settlements halved the settlement fee. Macdonald absorbed the $7000 cost for legal documents to protect everyone’s share of the property, after a $14,000 discount from lawyer Vicki Grey of Mitchell Collins. Women’s refuge Orana House will choose the tenant and provide wrap-around services, like financial and emotional counselling, under its Housing Families program, while charity Starting Over Support will furnish the home for free. The tenant will attend a one-day REIWA course to understand her rights and responsibilities. “Orana is putting forward tenants for whom housing - not drug or alcohol problems - is the key obstacle to moving forward,” Macdonald said. “The tenant is provided support to heal, retrain and stand up on her own feet. The idea is that she can use the secure housing to move away from abusive relationships, and to break the cycle of abuse.” Jasmyn Hutin, spokesperson for Orana House said it was a mutually beneficial arrangement. “This is such an inspiring example of the power of collaboration,” Ms Hutin said. “With these generous philanthropists working together, they’ve been able to create a true Christmas miracle story for this young family, that they didn’t dare to dream of during all the months they’ve spent in refuge.” The bigger picture is not just to help one family, but to scale up the program with more investors and more homes. She is proof that one person can make a difference. She hopes many more will want to try.