First State Super has acquired 55 rental units six kilometres from Melbourne's CBD in a bid to improve housing affordability for nurses, police and firefighters.
The rental properties will be offered to healthcare, aged care, disability services, teachers, law enforcement, emergency services, childcare and associated industries workers at 80% of the market rate for the area.
Housing affordability is a growing challenge for residents across the city, with nine of out 10 hospital workers in Melbourne currently living more than 47 minutes away from their work, 32% longer than the state average.
Commute times for health and social service workers in Melbourne averaged 56 minutes, 38% longer than the state average for their industry.
The industry super fund's new rental units aim to reduce commute times for these key service workers.
First State Super chief executive Deanne Stewart said housing affordability continued to be a major challenge for the Fund's members, thanks to "inconsistent shift work hours and [a lack of] safe, secure and affordable housing in close proximity to their workplace".
"First State Super has for some time been investigating how we can be part of the solution to the housing affordability issues many of our members and other key workers who care for and protect our community, face in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne," Stewart said.
"We made our first pilot investment in key worker affordable rental housing in Epping in NSW in mid-2019. We now have four other similar investments in NSW and will shortly commence construction on our next project in Miranda NSW.
"This is our first investment in key worker affordable housing in Victoria. We chose this development for its prime location - just six kilometres from the CBD and four kilometres from Parkville health precinct - and exceptional facilities.
"Through initiatives like this we hope to try to address some of the barriers our members and other key workers are facing to renting affordable housing near their work and families."
Located in the suburb of Moonee Ponds, the apartments are close to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Children's Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Women's Hospital. They are also closely located to several primary and secondary schools.
The residential investment in Moonee Ponds brings the industry super fund's key service worker housing portfolio to almost $200 million in NSW and Victoria.
Victorian minister for housing Richard Wynne applauded the super fund's effort to address housing issues for service workers.
"No one likes a long commute to and from work and I can only imagine that it's even harder for our hospital staff and other care workers who work odd hours and long shifts," he said.
"Projects like this which help workers in these key industries access safe, affordable housing closer to where they work, go a long way towards easing that burden and I hope these tenants enjoy their new homes and shorter commute."
Across NSW, First State Super owns 35 residential units in Hurstville, 17 units in Waterloo, 61 units in Epping, and 35 residential units in Northmead.
First State Super will merge with VicSuper later this year.