PHOENIX—GlobeSt.com recently caught up with Flynann Janisse,  the executive director of Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation, a nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for residents of rental housing communities throughout the country.  Rainbow seeks to create and preserve quality, affordable housing for families and individuals of diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds. GlobeSt.com asked Janisse to define impact investing and give a sense of its growing popularity.

GlobeSt.com: How is impact investing defined?

Janisse: In the world of affordable housing and resident services in which I operate, impact investing is defined as a financial investment in residents as the catalyst for social and economic change in a community. This includes improving the financial performance of an asset to offer an economic return by investing in programs and services that will support change in a community through improved education, financial literacy and community enrichment.

GlobeSt.com: What are the factors contributing to impact investing gaining popularity?

Janisse: It is the right thing to do and it is a responsible financial and social decision. It allows an avenue for organizations and individuals to be socially responsible, which has become a greater concern among key demographics. Our industry is responding to the core of who we are, why we do affordable housing and the importance of investing in the residents who live in our communities.  

GlobeSt.com: How will it continue to take shape in 2015?

Janisse: Awareness will support the forward movement and continued discussions of how to be innovative by creating platforms for impact investing to drive engagement and bridge social responsibility to the economic outcomes.  

GlobeSt.com: Will we see an increase in impact investing in 2015?

Janisse: I assume so. I hope so. Impact investing continues to be a hot topic and is gaining momentum with the infusion of best practices, success stories and savvy financial experts paving the way for it to be implemented more broadly.

GlobeSt.com: How do service-enriched housing programs like Rainbow’s factor into the impact investing trend?

Janisse: The provision of programs and services is essential to impact investing. Tracking measurable outcomes is key and Rainbow is a leader in doing so. Those seeking to support impact investing will desire to see the results of the investment. Rainbow will continue to showcase the improvement of income and reduction of expenses through the delivery of our national service-enriched housing model.

GlobeSt.com: Is the financial and social return equal, or is one greater than the other?

Janisse: Impacting human lives in a way that supports social change is not always tangible, although key components are. There is most certainly both an economic and social return. The measurement of social return can only be determined by the heart that sees value in it and those who understand social change and how it impacts a family, community, city and state. The economic return will be easily seen and undoubtedly viewed as a great success when quality programs and services are provided and tracked.