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Housing communities key to eliminating poverty

Community Housing Aotearoa
Media Release, 8 August ,

Housing communities key part
of the answer to eliminating child poverty

Community Housing, the national umbrella organisation for the community housing sector, agrees with the latest report on child poverty released this week that an increase in warm, dry, affordable housing is crucial for children's health and wellbeing.

"We commend the Children's Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, and Barnardos for commissioning this report, A Fair Go for all Children, and for their advocacy of the 32 actions that it recommends be taken. Amongst the proposed actions it puts forward we especially support actions such as expanding our rental housing stock to ensure secure, affordable, less crowded accommodation," says Thérèse Quinlivan, Director of Community Housing.

"The report is correct that New Zealand does have an under-supply of quality housing for poorer families in situations of severe or significant need. We agree that where this occurs a more ambitious approach is needed to ensure that we are building up a substantial stock of social housing to meet future need. We also agree that the state cannot supply all of the housing that is needed – there will have to be more partnerships between local authorities, not-for-profit organisations and businesses".

"The section of the report that is focused on the topic of deprived neighbourhoods provides a particularly sad commentary about the impact of poverty on children and the way in which poverty is often literally pushed to the edges of our cities and towns," says Thérèse Quinlivan.

"There are many opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that are being lost through an apparent acceptance of poor planning in deprived areas. It is encouraging then to see that this report has given such prominence to the importance of local infrastructure and community renewal as a means to raise hope and mitigate the effects of child poverty"

"Community Housing endorses the recommendation made in A Fair Go for all Children, that our politicians and policymakers should draw on the lessons of the UK New Deal for Communities programme and should make a long-term commitment to integrated infrastructure development in deprived, low income communities. We agree this will call for wide-ranging collaborative initiatives that are not short term, crisis focused or confined within single-agency silos".

"As Dr Kiro has stated this is not a radical agenda. It is in line with many policies that are becoming orthodox across the OECD. As she also states, we cannot afford to go backwards. Our future decision makers must at minimum commit themselves to a 'backstop' target of not allowing child poverty rates to worsen or slip backwards again. As stated in the report, the choices governments make do make a difference.

We know those choices and decisions can impact directly on child poverty because of gains made in recent years. However simply co-ordinating existing departmental work and adding in some new initiatives won't be enough. We agree that where necessary existing priorities will need to be refocused, the key goals will need to be on every agency's agenda and they will need to be monitored as independently as possible so that we do make a difference by working together".


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