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Social Report highlights impending housing crisis

8 August 2006

Social Report highlights impending housing crisis

"Despite many positives aspects, the Social Report 2006 has again highlighted the two related and interlocking problems of increasingly unaffordable housing, and an increasing number of New Zealanders who are experiencing significant or severe hardship," says United Future housing spokesperson Judy Turner.

"The rising cost of buying and renting housing is significantly contributing to higher levels of hardship. Rising energy costs is further adding to the costs.

"The proportion of New Zealanders spending more than 30% of their total income on housing, more than doubled from 1988 to 2004 to 21.4 percent.

Mrs Turner says she applauds schemes like 'Kiwi-saver', and wants to see more initiatives offered to help particularly first-time home-buyers into ownership.

"There needs to be a range of options available for those struggling with the increasing cost of housing, to suit the varied circumstances of the individual. These options need to be based on variables such as earning capacity, and ability to save for and repay loans."

"The report itself notes that high housing costs are associated with severe financial difficulty, and that affordable housing is important for people's wellbeing.

"But this is more than just a short term problem. Unaffordable housing has significant longer term consequences if we have large numbers of people who are unable to access the means for their most valuable, stable and important asset.

"Unless steps are down to assist people into home ownership now, we face a situation where people will have not only few cash assets, but be without the traditional New Zealand nest egg - the family home.

"This is likely to have huge financial and social implications for both individual New Zealanders, and the country as a whole. Now is the time to act," Mrs Turner says.

ENDS

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