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Housing policy contributing to poor health stats

Phil Heatley National Party Housing Spokesman

1 May 2006

Labour's state housing policy contributing to poor health stats

Labour's policy of allowing people with surprisingly high incomes to stay in state houses indefinitely is contributing to an out-of-control waiting list and poor health statistics among those waiting for state housing, says National's Housing spokesman, Phil Heatley.

"It is also madness that hundreds, possibly thousands, of tenants are renting out rooms in their Housing NZ homes, profiteering off the goodwill of the taxpayer, when these larger homes could be freed up for otherwise overcrowded families."

He is commenting on an Otago University Wellington School of Medicine research project which has found that rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses and hospital admission rates are higher among those waiting for a state house.

"Overcrowding among families waiting for housing is a serious issue. Labour has had nearly seven years to deal with it, but has failed," says Mr Heatley.

"Instead, it is prepared to let the needy languish on state housing waiting lists while the wealthy can stay put." Figures show the top five after-tax household incomes of HNZ tenants are $94,938, $84,968, $82,240, $80,588 and $78, 520.

Yet Statistics New Zealand reported last June that the average before-tax income for Kiwi households was just $65,520 per year.

"By refusing to move people on when they reach an income where they should be able to start looking after their own housing needs, Labour is creating an environment where there will never be enough state houses to satisfy demand.

"It is exactly the same when they let tenants make money by using their state houses as boarding houses.

More than 1,100 state house tenants have declared boarders, but because there is no penalty, it has been suggested that many more tenants aren't telling Housing NZ about the arrangement.

"These nonsense policies are at least partly to blame for the poor health of the families who really do need state houses," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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