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Housing debate puts politicians under the pump

Housing debate puts politicians under the pump

The first debate of the election year will ask political parties what they are doing to ensure all New Zealanders live in warm, dry, affordable homes.

Hosted by Community Housing Aotearoa, Te Matapihi, The Salvation Army, NZ Council of Christian Social Services, Platform and Prefab NZ, the debate will focus on what is required to end the housing crisis in New Zealand.

CHA Chief Executive Scott Figenshow says the housing spokespeople from all political parties had been invited to take place in the debate being held at Te Papa on June 7.

The event, organised as part of CHA’s Impact Conference, will see the politicians asked a series of questions about how to “move the needle” in the right direction to see all New Zealanders well housed.

Expert commentators Hurimoana Nui Dennis, from Te Puea Marae, Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army and Stephen Selwood, of Infrastructure NZ, will ask follow-up questions and give their view on whether the responses would “move the needle” in the right direction.

Major Campbell Roberts says a lot of work has been done focused on increasing the overall housing supply, and significantly more money had gone into emergency and social housing.

“However, what is clearly missing is steps to help those in the ‘missing middle’ – the actions that will support those needing assisted rental or assisted ownership,” he says.

“Latest figures estimate as many as quarter of a million Kiwi households are in this intermediate market where they struggle to find adequate housing.”

Trevor McGlinchey, NZ Council for Christian Social Services, says that thousands of people are struggling to get by on low incomes.

”More than half our population live in rental housing, including seven out of every ten children in poverty, and housing costs are driving people deeper into poverty.”

Trevor McGlinchey says that the Income Related Rent Subsidy for social housing works really well to help social housing renters move out of poverty, but most people on low incomes are renting in the private sector and support for them is not enough.

“Some 285,000 households are receiving the Accommodation Supplement that’s paid out without taking account of the quality of the housing it’s paying for.

“Social service organisations working with families in market rentals regularly tell us about the cold, damp, unhealthy homes they live in where family members often end up sick, in hospital, or facing life-long health and social impacts as a result.

“Yet the landlords of these sub-standard houses are receiving Government subsidised rent through the Accommodation Supplement.

“We need to aim for something much better – to have a vision that is big and bold enough to change housing for the better,” he says.

Trevor McGlinchey says that vision must include minimum housing standards.

“We should look at how we can better design housing subsidies so they link to minimum housing standards and ensure people have enough income to heat their homes and meet their other daily costs.

“We need our politicians to listen and step up to tell us how they plan to do better for all New Zealanders – that's what this debate is about.”

Media are welcome to attend the debate which will be moderated by NZ Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner David Rutherford.

[ends]

More information about the debate can be found here


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