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Housing Inquiry Final Report: No Future Generation Should Face A Housing Crisis

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission is calling on all Members of Parliament to treat housing as a human right, and to use all its available resources to alleviate the housing crisis.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says while here is a shift to recognise a decent home as a human right, and investment is starting to show effect, many are still being left out in the cold.

“Young people, refugee and migrant families, Māori, Pasifika, single parents, elderly and disabled people continue to struggle,” says Hunt.

The twin hardships of inflation and interest rate increases are adding further stress for many.

“Orientating the housing system toward human rights and te Tiriti o Waitangi can help reduce these pressures on people’s daily lives.”

Hunt’s comments come as the Commission releases the final report of its two-year housing inquiry today with Manaaki Rangatahi, a youth homelessness collective.

Data collated for the Commission’s Inquiry found housing affordability had significantly decreased over the last three decades, a dramatic shortfall in accessible housing, and many homes – particularly rental properties – are at risk of making people sick due to mould and dampness.

The Inquiry identified significant breaches of human rights in the emergency housing system and a need for the government, and others responsible for housing such as the private sector, to be held more accountable.

The Commission's final report, Implementing the right to a decent home in Aotearoa: Fairness and dignity for all, has six recommendations to help create the frameworks and accountability needed to make progress to fully realise the right to a decent home in Aotearoa.

No future generation should have to live through a housing crisis

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“For the first time in decades we’ve seen a very significant increase by the Government to the baseline investment in the housing system, and there are welcome signs of progress” says Hunt.

“Some of the initiatives now underway around the country, such as the Bader Ventura apartments opened recently by Kāinga Ora which are designed to require minimal energy to heat or cool, do provide real hope. It is vital this is sustained and increased over time.

“From a human rights perspective, the government must use its maximum available resources to address the housing crisis and to ensure this fundamental right is being realised in Aotearoa New Zealand. That obligation remains no matter who is in government.

“Our recommendations are aimed at further ensuring a system that supports housing as a human right,” says Hunt.

These recommendations include establishing an independent constructive accountability mechanism, such as a housing ombudsman or commissioner to ensure housing investment continues.

This should be accompanied by te Ao Māori forms of accountability for housing. The Inquiry included options in a discussion paper released in February.

The Commission also says that safeguards are needed to prevent housing becoming a political casualty.

“Successive governments over the last 50 years have signed up to this human right in international law. These aren’t empty promises – they are binding commitments to treat housing as a human right.”

A shift of mindset to see housing as a human right, instead of a mere commodity.

“It’s not enough to just build our way out of the housing crisis. We need to ensure that dignity, whakamana tangata, is at the heart of our housing system.

“We see that dignity and care in the work that organisations like Manaaki Rangatahi provide to rangatahi who are experiencing homelessness. The government should be known for that level of consistent care too,” says Hunt.

The final report devotes a chapter to how policy makers can integrate the right to a decent home and te Tiriti o Waitangi into their housing policies, for which the Commission sought feedback from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

This can help ensure that people’s dignity and mana is respected by the system, as well as help to strengthen and improve the government’s policies.

Tools for communities, individuals, businesses, and organisations

The report also provides tools for communities, individuals and housing organisations to hold government and the private sector accountable for the right to a decent home, in the context of te Tiriti o Waitangi. It also includes guidelines on how to uphold human rights and te Tiriti o Waitangi for the private sector and community housing organisations.

The final report will be viewable here: https://tikatangata.org.nz/our-work/housing-inquiry-final-report

The six recommendations of the report:

  1. Commit to legislative recognition of the right to a decent home, shaped by and giving effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi
  2. Integrate the right to a decent home into housing policy-making processes
  3. Appoint one or more human rights, Tiriti, and equity officers within our lead housing and housing policy agencies
  4. Fulfill the obligations set out in te Tiriti o Waitangi, including the obligation to recognise, respect, and support Māori tino rangatiratanga in respect of Māori housing
  5. Strengthen accountability and participation across the housing system – including through the establishment of effective constructive accountability mechanisms
  6. Implement effective accountability measures that adequately protect and enforce the right to a decent home for everyone, including renters and residents in emergency and transitional housing

Reports and content produced during the housing inquiry:

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