Australian Unity Tips $30m into SDA Fund

Wealth and investment platform Australian Unity is ramping up its specialist disability housing portfolio, tipping a $30.5-million raise into its newly established specialist disability accommodation fund.

Since opening the fund to investors 18 months ago, Australian Unity has grown its “participant-centric” SDA assets across the eastern seaboard to more than $50 million in assets.

Australian Unity seeded the fund with 33 specialist disability accommodation apartments and five carers’ apartments in Melbourne’s eastern and northern suburbs after a ​​first-round capital raise drew $39 million in investment.

Australian Ethical, an initial investor in fund, will again act as a cornerstone participant in the raise.

The group is banking on recent rising demand for the niche asset class, which has grown from nothing into a $2.5-billion asset class in the past five years.

Housing in the sector 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 $10-billion asset class with an estimated $700 million to be spent annually on SDA payments as part of the NDIS, unlocking an enormous opportunity for the private sector.

​​Users of supported independent living are also expected to lift by 35 per cent from 26,000 to 35,000 during the next four years, according to a market statement released by the National Disability Insurance Agency in August.

Australian Unity social infrastructure general manager Ryan Banting said the fund was a critical component of the group’s broader commitment to social infrastructure assets, including hospitals, medical centres, aged care and student accommodation.

The group’s existing social infrastructure portfolio includes Brisbane’s $1.1-billion Herston Quarter redevelopment, along with its investments in hospitals, medical centres and seniors living facilities across the country.

“Across the property market, few growth opportunities have matched that of Australia’s disability housing sector, which during the past five years has emerged from the ground-up to reach $2.5 billion,” Banting said.

“The attraction is reflective of the sector’s risk appropriate yields and the opportunity to make a measurable difference to the lives of Australians living with disability.”

As well as Australian Unity, Macquarie, Lighthouse Infrastructure and ASX-listed Arena REIT are all early movers in the sector.

Already Summer Housing has raised more than $300 million from a variety of sources, with 370 dwellings financed.


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