Impact investment manager Conscious Investment Management has partnered with a community housing associated and a Victorian state government agency to fund the acquisition of hundreds of social and affordable housing units in Melbourne.
The investment will see Conscious Investment Management finance the acquisition of up to 307 newly built one-and two-bedroom apartments around Melbourne. Conscious Investment Management has partnered with community housing association HousingFirst and state government agency Homes Victoria in the project.
The investment is cornerstoned by the Conscious Investment Management Impact Fund. Conscious Investment Management's investors include the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Future Super. The impact fund focuses on investing in social infrastructure like disability housing, deep impact, such as social impact bonds, property, including affordable housing, and environmental infrastructure.
Conscious Investment Management focuses on building partnerships with not for profits that are aligned with the needs of the communities they are serving, a model that is applied to this investment, said Conscious Investment Management chief investment officer Matthew Tominc.
"this is in line with our model of acquiring properties and making the financial decisions then working with the not for profits," Tominc said. "We've known the HousingFirst team for a while, and we used the benefit of our experience to work with HousingFirst over about 12 months to bring this investment together."
The program forms part of the Victorian Government's New Rental Development Program, funded under the Victorian Social Housing Growth Fund announced by the Minister for Housing in 2018. More than one hundred dwellings have been contracted on so far, with the remaining acquisitions to occur over the next 12 months.
Properties that have settled are currently being leased up. Tenants are sourced from the Victorian Housing Register, which currently has more than 50,000 people on its waitlist, Conscious Investment Management said.
"Affordable housing means rents are capped at 75% of market rent, while social housing is where rent is maximum of 30% of a tenant's income," Tominc noted. "The investment is 75% social, 25% affordable housing, and really that social housing component is why we needed involvement from Homes Victoria."
The development project will grow HousingFirst in areas where people can access amenities such as transport, school, jobs and support services, said HousingFirst's chief executive officer, Haleh Homaei.
"Through the New Rental Development Program, an innovative partnership between HousingFirst, Conscious Investment Management and the Victorian State Government, we will help over five hundred Victorians come off the housing waiting list," Homaei said. "They will move into affordable homes in central locations within existing vibrant communities that are close to economic and jobs hubs. This partnership will change lives."
This investment brings Conscious Investment Management's funds under management to approximately $270 million. The fund manager is also expanding its team as it grows its assets under management, Tominc noted.
"The investment pipeline is the strongest it's ever been," he said. "We focus on distributed solar, specialist disability and social and affordable housing, and in all of those areas we have investments that we're working on and conducting due diligence on."