The Fuggerei is the world’s oldest social housing complex still in use. It is a walled enclave within the city of Augsburg, Bavaria. It takes it name from the Fugger family and was founded in 1516 by Jakob Fugger the Younger (known as “Jakob Fugger the Rich”) as a place where the needy citizens of Augsburg could be housed. By 1523, 52 houses had been built, and in the coming years the area expanded with various streets, small squares and a church. The gates were locked at night, so the Fuggerei was, in its own right, very similar to a small independent medieval town. It is still inhabited today, affording it the status of being the oldest social housing project in the world.
…The Fuggerei is supported by a charitable trust established in 1520 which Jakob Fugger funded with an initial deposit of 10,000 guilders. According to the Wall Street Journal the trust has been carefully managed with most of its income coming from forestry holdings, which the Fugger family favored since the 17th century after losing money on higher yielding investments. The annual return on the trust has ranged from an after inflation rate of 0.5% to 2%. Currently the trust is administered by Wolf-Dietrich Graf von Hundt.
Someone (not me) could write a very good popular economic history book on how they managed this success.
For the pointer I thank Patrick of Singapore.