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BRANZ Estimates 750,000 NZ Homes Still Need Insulation

BRANZ estimates 750,000 NZ homes still need insulation.

July 31, 2017 - A Wellington social enterprise is tired of waiting for a national solution to poor quality housing and has set about rallying key players to get the job done.

The Sustainability Trust and regional partners concerned about housing-related health issues gathered last week to discuss a coordinated and sustained effort to address the issues.

More than 40,000 children were admitted to New Zealand hospitals last year with preventable illnesses associated with poor housing, and about 1600 deaths a year are attributed to people living in cold, damp homes.

“These deaths and illnesses are preventable, and there is peer-reviewed research and on-the-ground proof that we have solutions – so let’s just get it done,” says Sustainability Trust chief executive Philip Squire.

Organisations with a stake in the issue, including representatives from city councils and regional council, DHBs, government agencies, charitable trusts, research and health organisations, gathered on Thursday last week to discuss a regional housing initiative for Wellington.

It is hoped the initiative, through collaboration and coordination, might go some way to addressing barriers to creating healthy housing for all in Wellington.

“Everyone in the room wants Wellington homes to be warm and dry, especially for those families who are on a low income or suffering from housing-related health issues,” says Squire.

“But at the moment there are some barriers to doing that – not enough money, policies and laws that give mixed messages and are applied differently by different authorities, and not enough coordinated support for families to meet the costs of creating a healthy home.”

Although the quality of some of New Zealand’s housing stock is not great, many homes can be brought up to a healthy standard with simple fixes like insulation, better heating, curtains, and mitigation of moisture and ventilation issues.

The Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes scheme and the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act have gone some way to getting New Zealand homes upgraded but there is still work to do, says Squire.

A recent study from BRANZ estimated there are 750,000 homes across New Zealand that still need to be insulated.

There are still Warm Up subsidies available to low-income families, and to landlords who are renting to low-income families, but take-up has been very slow in the last year and the funding will expire in June next year.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee bill passed its second reading last week, and there is a voluntary rental warrant of fitness scheme soon to be launched in Wellington.

They’re positive moves but, regardless, there’s still a way to go, Squire says.
It is hoped a steering committee for the regional healthy housing group will be established in the next month. It would develop consistent regional housing policies, coordinate funding for long-term projects that deliver the best outcomes for vulnerable families and support the regional roll-out of a rental warrant of fitness.

“To adequately insulate all Wellington homes, significant investment will be needed. By bringing together regional stakeholders with policy and funding clout we think we can make a difference and engage with corporate and institutional funders to get that though.”


*Sustainability Trust is a Wellington social enterprise that helps people create warm, dry homes and reduce their impact on the environment. It is an approved provider of the Warm Up NZ scheme and has installed insulation in more than 13,000 homes since 2003.

*The organisations invited to join the regional housing initiative and which were present at last week’s meeting were:

• Greater Wellington Regional Council
• Wellington City Council
• Porirua City Council
• Hutt City Council
• Upper Hutt City Council
• Kāpiti Coast District Council
• Capital and Coast DHB

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