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Better housing part of reducing child poverty

PHA supports better housing as part of reducing child poverty

Public Health Association media release 28 August 2012

The Public Health Association (PHA) says practical proposals in the first report on solutions to child poverty from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner are a real step forward, particularly with regard to housing.

The report of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group, released today, says that, while there’s no simple solution to New Zealand high rate of child poverty, both short- and long-term actions can make a difference.

PHA Strategic Advisor Maori Public Health Keriata Stuart says she is pleased to see that providing warm, dry, secure housing for New Zealand children is a key part of the report. The PHA has called for many years for more support to insulate and heat low-income housing.

“We know that poor quality, overcrowded housing, and families who have to move from place to place because of poverty, are a major contributor to child health problems such as respiratory illness and rheumatic fever,” says Ms Stuart.

“Housing also affects children’s education, and can make it harder for parents to find and keep employment. Improving low-income housing is an investment in New Zealand’s children.

“The Expert Group’s recommendations are exciting because they’re specific, presented as a package, and focused on prevention.”

Recommendations include a warrant of fitness for rental housing, increasing social housing (such as Housing New Zealand homes) and reforming accommodation support. Research carried out for the Expert Group shows that 50 percent of children living in poverty live in rental housing, with another 20 percent in social housing.

The PHA says it also supports the report’s recommendations to refocus family assistance, improve access to health care, and create a Child Poverty Act so that governments and the public can measure progress on reducing the number of New Zealand children in poverty.

Ms Stuart says the PHA will be providing comment on the draft report, and is looking forward to the final report in December.

“We congratulate the Children’s Commissioner on the full package of recommendations being put forward, and the Expert Advisory Group on their positive, well-researched work.”


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