Powerbrokers make impact in disability accommodation

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The commitments from Ramsay and CIM’s Impact Fund – former Swisse boss Radek Sali is one of several family office investors backing the fund – will help fund the creation of purpose-built apartments across a number of developments under way in Melbourne Adelaide and Brisbane.

Already Summer Housing has raised more than $300 million from a variety of sources, with 370 dwellings financed. Institutional investors are moving into the sector: Macquarie is among the early birds along with boutique investment house Lighthouse Infrastructure.

The housing is specially developed for people living with a disability, with rental streams backed by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Industry forecasts are expecting the creation of a $5 billion asset class.

There is a large unmet demand. Some 28,000 people – around 6 per cent of those who fall under the NDIS – will require the specialist housing. Taking into account existing facilities, it is estimated new dwellings will be required to accommodate 12,300 participants in the scheme.

So far some 980 new or refurbished SDA dwellings have been created, with a little more than 4000 dwellings enrolled in the scheme. When fully exercised, the housing scheme payments are expected to total $750 million annually, with just 20 per cent of that being paid out so far.

Summer Housing chief executive chief Dan McLennan pointed out the particularly grim situation for more than 5000 people, all under the age of 65, who are forced to live in nursing homes because there are no other appropriate housing options.

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The freshly minted agreement with the impact investment consortium would give at least some of those people “the choice to live on their own, or with someone of their choosing, with independence and with the ability to fully participate in the community”, Mr Mclennan said.

While Summer Housing’s effort has so far been focused within existing larger apartment projects in capital cities, it is keen to extend that.

“How can we come up with scalable solutions that enable institutional capital to be applied toward creating housing not just in capital cities but throughout the whole of Australia. It is a problem that isn’t confined to our cities,” Mr McLennan told The Australian Financial Review.

“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of existing pipeline and the market itself still has a lot of scope for growth. I think every institutional investor we’ve engaged with has appetite for significant scale in the market. They are keen for the production of opportunities to finance.”

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