When thinking about a high quality of life, most people would agree living in a comfortable home close to the things they need is important. Affordability, access to amenities and being near family and friends are among the common priorities people have when looking for a home.
But for many people with disability, suitable housing options are limited. There are just 2,000 homes in Australia that meet the needs of around 30,000 people with high support requirements for physical, cognitive or intellectual disability.
This means the needs of people with disability often go unmet, as they are forced to choose between living in inappropriate housing or aged care - in fact, currently 4,000people with disability under the age of 65 live in aged care for this reason.
“Lots of the individuals moving into our homes are coming from living arrangements that are totally inappropriate – from aged care, from hospitals or from housing arrangements that at times have meant they can’t leave the house,” says Poppy Malone, Director of Market Engagement and Development at Inspire Impact, a Bank Australia partner and investment fund that aims to expand the specialist disability accommodation market.
“By providing appropriate and accessible accommodation, we are making a fundamental change in people’s lives, enabling them to broaden their community networks, to find a job, to have people over for the first time – all these wonderful things that many people who do not have a disability might take for granted.”
Bank Australia and Inspire Impact’s partnership began in 2018, when the fund took out a loan of around $5 million to pair with capital from private investors. This money was then used to acquire, upgrade, and redevelop 10 homes in Victoria and ACT that provide accommodation for people with disability on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
A recent survey of the people living in these homes showed 90% feel comfortable and believe their home enables them to feel a sense of belonging in their community. This result is in stark contrast to benchmark levels of satisfaction among people with disability who are searching for homes in Australia, only 17% of whom are satisfied with their current housing.
Inspire Impact partners with disability services, including the NDIS and Accommodation and Support provider Claro, to find tenants and buyers for the homes they own. Poppy emphasises the importance of partnerships in their work, and says the fund is under a strict mandate from investors to use money as a force for good.
“The kind of investors we’re working with aren’t interested in pure financial returns. They know you can have a profound social and environmental impact and generate great returns.”
Since 2018,Inspire Impact has continued using business loans from Bank Australia to acquire more specialist disability accommodation (SDA), totalling 150 homes so far. Their aim is to provide housing to around 1,000 people with disability across their homes within 5 years, making a significant contribution to expanding the SDA market.
Funds invested in the Impact Term Deposit pilot helped refinance this Inspire Impact loan for investment in the SDA sector, meaning Impact Term Deposit customers have contributed to improving access to appropriate and accessible housing for people living with disability.
 Wellecke, C. , Robertson, J., Rathbone, A., Winkler, D., Aimers, N. (2022,June). Housing Seeker Snapshot. Melbourne, Australia: Housing Hub and Summer Foundation. https://www.housinghub.org.au/resources/article/housing-hub-data-snapshot-housing-seekers