Australian Unity and GreenFort focus on emerging $5bn SDA sector

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AUSTRALIAN Unity and GreenFort Capital have struck an agreement that will facilitate the development of a $40 million portfolio of specialist disability accommodation (SDA), at a time of rapid growth in the sector.

Australian Unity’s SDA Fund will partner with the alternative real estate fund manager to deliver an initial tranche of dwellings across sites in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, and Logan City.

More than $5 billion in capital is required to be invested in the sector over the coming five years to create new SDA stock, according to the National Disability Insurance Agency.

The total SDA market is ultimately expected to be worth between $10 billion and $12 billion. Annual funding will reach $700 million once the federal government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is fully funded.

The SDA Fund will hit more than circa $80 million in assets and projects as a result, following an initial $40 million capital raise and a number of SDA apartment acquisitions across Victoria since launching in April last year.

SDA is designed for NDIS participants who cannot live in mainstream housing, but want to live independently from carers. An estimated circa 6% of NDIS participants will have SDA in their plans when the scheme reaches maturity – around 28,000 participants.

Ryan Banting, general manager social infrastructure at Australian Unity, said the pandemic had emphasised the importance of all Australians having access to housing solutions that are responsive to their needs.

“The marker of successful specialist disability accommodation is creating an interdependent mix of services and places for residents,” he said.

GreenFort specialises in accommodation investing, including across retirement living, build to rent and student housing, and is responsible for site origination, design, and development of the assets.

Adam Vaggelas, Partner, GreenFort Capital, said the severe undersupply of rental accommodation which satisfies the needs of people with disability led to its focus on the evolving sector.

“There is a critical need for specialist accommodation which supports and empowers people with functional impairments,” Vaggelas said.

“Our investment philosophy is centred on the creation of well-located, high quality buildings specifically tailored to the needs of Australians living with disability.”

Australian Unity will soon commence its second SDA equity raise for $35 million after this week announcing the appointment of three executives to its growing social infrastructure activities.

Jacob Edwards joins as fund manager for the Australian Unity Specialist Disability Accommodation Fund from Bank Australia’s impact finance team, senior analyst Dean Zaccardo joins from Deloitte, and portfolio analyst Matt Hibbert moves from EY’s infrastructure advisory team.