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Urgent Action Need on Accessible Housing

Urgent Action Need on Accessible Housing

New Zealand’s housing stock will become a liability for future generations without urgent leadership from government, says CCS Disability Action.

While other countries including the United Kingdom and United States have mandatory accessibility standards in their building codes, New Zealand is allowing homes to be built that are not fit for the needs of all its people.

“Accessible housing is not just about making sure people with disabilities can live healthy, connected lives, but about meeting the needs of every citizen, throughout their lives,” says David Matthews, Chief Executive of CCS Disability Action.

“With an ageing population it makes social and economic sense to invest in building accessible housing upfront, at the cost of around 0.8% of the total build, significantly less than the cost of retrofitting down the track.

“Yet, right now, every time we build a home without even basic access needs like level entry access, New Zealand is burdening future generations with huge social and economic costs.”

Mr. Matthews says the situation is acute for people with disabilities who now represent an estimated one million of the population according to the 2013 Disability Survey.

Large numbers are struggling to find adequate, affordable housing, limiting their ability to be involved in the community and find employment, in turn leading to lower incomes, access barriers and discrimination in the community.

“We need leadership from government to ensure that at a very minimum; all housing we build in the future incorporates into its design the potential to become fully accessible at some stage in its life cycle. If we fail to do so, future generations will continue to be restricted by a limited supply of housing which meets their needs.. This is an issue that affects everyone.”

Mr. Matthews says the first step would be to develop and mandate accessible housing standards similar to those already developed by Lifetime Design which are used to “Lifemark” building plans.

“We need architects, property developers, councils and all sector groups to be thinking about designing homes that fit the diverse needs of every person in the community, not just the able-bodied average.

“We are all vulnerable to developing impairments. Houses have to be able to meet an individual or families’ changing needs over time. It is far cheaper and easier to get access right from the beginning.”


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