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Healthy Housing Project Launched

5 March 2001 Media Statement

Healthy Housing Project

Prime Minister Helen Clark today launched the government's Healthy Housing Project which will see living conditions in hundreds of state houses in Onehunga, Mangere and Otara targeted for improvement.

Today a large family from Onehunga moved out of their two-bedroom Housing New Zealand property into a newly modified four bedroom, two bathroom state house.

In total, 250 houses are to be extended. Others will be improved or modified in a variety of ways to achieve objectives such as better ventilation to reduce damp or improved insulation for warmth.

"Market rent rises of over 100 per cent in the 1990s and the sell-off of 13,000 state houses by the previous government saw many thousands of New Zealand families fall below the poverty line and into overcrowded, unhealthy housing," Helen Clark said.

"As state housing became too expensive, families and households had to make do by living in crowded conditions because that was all they could afford.

"The impact on health has been serious. New Zealand's meningococcal disease rate – linked to overcrowding by health experts – is six times that of Australia and twelve times the rate experienced in the United States.

"In December the Labour-Alliance government scrapped market rents and restored income-related rents: low-income households now pay no more than 25 per cent of their income on rent.

"Housing New Zealand and South Auckland Health are now working together to improve the health of families by reducing the incidence of overcrowding and improving housing conditions. Experts have identified Otara, Mangere and Onehunga as at risk, priority areas.

"Another aim is to raise community awareness of housing-related health issues. A range of initiatives are planned in conjunction with Auckland Healthcare, including tenant-focused education programmes and links to private sector landlords.

"I am proud to lead a government which has made healthy, affordable housing for New Zealanders a top priority," Helen Clark said


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