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Action on housing needed now, not later

May 5 2005

Action on housing needed now, not later

The Government's new housing strategy is a step in the right direction but leaves a number of questions unanswered, Green Party Housing Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"We urgently need to know how many dollars the Government is actually going to put towards implementing it and which parts - and not just in the next three years, but over the next 10 to 15," Ms Bradford says.

The strategy, released today, does a good job of identifying the issues but simply highlights the need that action is needed now, not later.

"This is a crisis of major proportions affecting both urban and rural New Zealand. It can't be fixed by 2000 extra state houses in Auckland over the next two years, or by increasing the Accommodation Supplement as is happening through Working for Families."

More and more people are unable to buy their own home; can't afford the rent in the private sector even with the Accommodation Supplement; and are living in substandard or overcrowded accommodation. There is nowhere near enough emergency housing, or accommodation for people with mental illness and other disabilities, she says.

"Reviewing the Accommodation Supplement is not enough - while it continues to grow, all it is doing is providing a taxpayer subsidy to landlords, employers and banks, not getting people into their own homes," she says

This is highlighted in the report with the dramatically falling rates of home ownership.

One of the key answers to this is to get rid of the student loan scheme and deal with graduate debt, which is crippling a generation's aspirations. The introduction of a Universal Child Benefit which, could be capitalised for a first home deposit, would also help people into their own homes.

Government also needs to move more quickly and extensively on improving energy efficiency in homes, including in the private rental market where low-income people are often trapped by high power bills, which they can do nothing to avoid, she said

ENDS

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