HESTA has expressed support for the government’s recently passed housing bills and urged for further institutional investment to tackle homelessness.
Last month, the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) was passed by the Parliament.
The legislation is expected to support a pipeline of some 30,000 social and affordable dwellings over the next five years, including 4,000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness.
The package of housing legislation also includes the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council Bill 2023, which will establish the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council as an independent statutory advisory body.
Debby Blakey, HESTA chief executive, has voiced the fund’s support of HAFF and its commitment to addressing the challenge of affordable housing and homelessness.
“Housing is a complex area of regulation with inputs from local, state and federal levels of government. There is a clear role for investors as public money cannot meet this challenge alone, but super funds need clarity of the investment landscape,” she said.
“Our members, who work in healthcare and community services, are experiencing housing affordability challenges that could affect their financial security in retirement.”
A majority of the $76 billion super fund’s 1 million members work in the healthcare and community services sectors, with nearly 80 per cent of whom are women and are on low-to-middle incomes.
In November 2022, the fund announced the launch of Super Housing Partnerships (SHP), a specialist affordable housing fund manager.
The $240 million investment was aimed towards the development of numerous build-to-rent (BTR) apartment projects in Victoria.
“This strategy maximises social outcomes and provides investors with a stable income profile, lower vacancy rates, and resilience during economic downturns,” Blakey explained.
Moreover, the fund released its submission to the government’s Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper.
The submission advocates more consistent definitions of affordability and qualifying parameters for social and affordable housing projects.
“Our proposed definition of affordability, based on real incomes for workers like our members, ensures that rents do not exceed 30 per cent of household income,” the CEO said.
HESTA also urged for more significant allocation of private capital to address Australia’s chronic undersupply of affordable housing.
“There is a need for innovative financing and land usage models that facilitate the allocation of capital to pipelines of projects at scale, and provide diverse ways for institutional investors to access investment in the sector,” the submission wrote.