Super fund commits $20m for housing affordability

HESTA has invested $20 million to help improve housing affordability and sustainability via a scalable, innovative apartment project.

Targeted at first home buyers, Affordable Housing clients and those working in key community occupations, 'Nightingale Village' is a 185-apartment, carbon-neutral residential project in Brunswick, consisting of six buildings.

The project is a partnership between HESTA, housing organisation Nightingale Housing and Social Ventures Australia (SVA), a not-for-profit that works with partners to alleviate disadvantage.

Twenty per cent of the apartments were allocated to "key contribution workers" such as nurses, aged care professionals, firefighters, ambulance officers, and those working in the not-for-profit sector.

A further 20% were pre-sold to community housing providers, which offers reduced rent to eligible clients. The remaining 60% were sold to the general public, many of whom are first home-buyers.

"Having a home is a fundamental element of financial security and societal connection and the lack of affordable homes close to major infrastructure is a huge issue for the community and our members," said chief executive Debby Blakey.

"We want to prove that you can invest to achieve returns for members and help address big social challenges like housing affordability. This investment provides a possible blueprint to help grow the supply of more affordable housing that could attract other large investors."

The $20 million investment is the biggest HESTA has committed out of its $70 million Social Impact Investment Trust, which is managed on its behalf by Social Ventures Australia.

SVA manages the SIIT, through which HESTA aims to continue to support the development of Australia's impact investment market.

The investments are designed to provide both a risk-adjusted market-based return and a measurable social impact. The SIIT is investing alongside SVA's managed impact fund, the Diversified Impact Fund.

"This investment is a great example of how institutional investment can have a positive impact on the broader Australian community by making a meaningful contribution to the social and affordable housing market," SVA executive director, impact investing Michael Lynch said.

"It speaks to the scale of opportunities available to investors looking to make both a social and financial return and grow the Australian impact investing market."

Read more: HESTASVASIITSocial Ventures AustraliaDebby BlakeyDiversified Impact FundMichael LynchNightingale HousingNightingale VillageSocial Impact Investment Trust
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