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Dismal state of psychiatric housing highlighted

Kapiti case highlights dismal state of psychiatric housing

The forced closure of a Kapiti Coast boarding house for former psychiatric patients has highlighted the need for Government action on the issue of safe housing for people with psychiatric problems, Green Party Mental Health Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

The Kapiti Coast District Council has ordered the closure of a boarding house in the area, citing 'dangerous and insanitary' conditions.

"It is unacceptable for anyone, but especially people with psychiatric or mental health problems who may not be in a position to recognise the risks, to be living in unsafe conditions. This case highlights the dire need for the Government to step in to ensure safe, adequate and affordable accommodation is available for former patients, both when they are first released from acute units, and also long-term.

"This requires increased resourcing and better monitoring of operators in this area. For every unsafe house like the one closed down, there are groups wanting to open good, quality housing facilities who are struggling to get off the ground because of lack of funding," Ms Bradford says.

Ms Bradford is also concerned about the legal protections available to tenants of boarding houses.

"The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, which passed its first reading in 2002, set out some very positive steps for providing greater protections for tenants of boarding houses, but has not been seen nor heard of since the select committee stage, and indeed seems to have dropped off the Government's Order Paper altogether," Ms Bradford says.

"I would like to know what has happened to this Bill, and what the Government proposes to do to improve the often dismal state of accommodation currently being endured by former psychiatric patients."


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