Health workers get a helping hand with housing

Friday, 07 February, 2020

Health workers get a helping hand with housing

First State Super has demonstrated its commitment to the lives of healthcare workers by announcing 55 new key worker affordable rental units located 6 km from Melbourne’s CBD.

The rental properties will be available for key workers (health care, aged care, disability services, teachers, law enforcement, emergency services, childcare and associated industries) to rent at 80% of the market rate for the area, with the advantage of short commutes to several leading Melbourne hospitals and schools.

Located in the leafy suburb of Moonee Ponds, the new apartments are in close proximity of major health facilities including the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Women’s Hospital, as well as 15 primary and secondary schools.

The initiative brings the super fund’s total commitment to affordable housing to nearly $200 million in NSW and Victoria, which is reported to be the largest investment in key worker affordable housing by any Australian institutional investor.

Victoria’s Minister for Housing, the Hon Richard Wynne MP, joined First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart and several healthcare industry representatives for the first official tour of the Moonee Ponds development on 30 January 2020.

Wynne congratulated First State Super for its efforts to address the affordable housing pressure facing many key workers, stating, “No one likes a long commute to and from work, and I can only imagine that it’s even harder for our hospital staff and other care workers who work odd hours and long shifts.

“Projects like this, which help workers in these key industries access safe, affordable housing closer to where they work, go a long way towards easing that burden and I hope these tenants enjoy their new homes and shorter commute,” he said.

Stewart said housing affordability posed unique challenges to the fund’s members, many of whom were subject to inconsistent shift work hours and struggled to find safe, secure and affordable housing in close proximity to their workplace.

“First State Super has for some time been investigating how we can be part of the solution to the housing affordability issues many of our members and other key workers who care for and protect our community face in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.

“We made our first pilot investment in key worker affordable rental housing in Epping in NSW in mid-2019. We now have four other similar investments in NSW and will shortly commence construction on our next project in Miranda, NSW.

“This is our first investment in key worker affordable housing in Victoria,” Stewart said.

“We chose this development for its prime location — just 6 km from the CBD and 4 km from Parkville health precinct — and exceptional facilities.

“Through initiatives like this we hope to try to address some of the barriers our members and other key workers are facing to renting affordable housing near their work and families.”

In addition to the new Moonee Ponds investment, First State Super has purchased 35 residential units located in Hurstville (15 km from CBD), 17 residential units located in Waterloo (4 km from CBD), 61 residential units in Epping (22 km from CBD) and 35 residential units in Northmead (27 km from CBD) across NSW.

Members who are benefiting from the initiative

Robyn Bourke

A nurse at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Robyn moved to Homer Street from Brunswick West. Her new commute to work will take just 15 minutes.

The move into the affordable housing investment means she will save about $100 a month in rent. Robyn will also make further savings thanks to the facilities on offer at Homer Street — for example, she’ll now be able to cancel her gym membership and use the onsite gym instead.

“When I first saw the apartment advertised online, I couldn’t believe [that] they were specially available for key service workers, like nurses, and that the opportunity was part of an investment by my super fund, First State Super,” Robyn said.

“I’ll save around $100 a month, and it feels like a bit of a perk to be able to live in such beautiful but affordable accommodation. The area feels so safe and I am really enjoying living here so far.”

Zarah Pocock

Zarah has recently relocated to Melbourne from Cairns, commencing work at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre — around a 25-minute commute on public transport.

“I have recently relocated to Melbourne and wanted to live somewhere convenient for work, but wasn’t sure what I would be able to afford in a close commuting distance to my new job as a nurse,” Zarah said.

“It is really good to have affordable housing so close to work and it has made my move to Melbourne that little bit less stressful.”

Top image: Debra Mika, Chief of Staff and Group Executive at First State Super; Victorian Minister for Housing Richard Wynne MP; and First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart.

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