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State houses sitting unused ‘unacceptable’

The Hon Tariana Turia
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Te Tai Hauauru

4 September 2012

State houses sitting unused ‘unacceptable’

Co-leader of the Maori Party Tariana Turia is shocked and angry that there may be homeless families that have been denied houses by Housing New Zealand while some state houses sit unused, and has picked up the call by the South Auckland Social Justice Network vowing to take this issue to Ministers for answers.

Mrs Turia said “homelessness is defined as living situations where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing. It is about vulnerability; it is about safety; it is about a need for shelter. As such, we need to look at this situation with many different lens – about how we can provide the support that is required for all our families to have a decent life”.

“If it is true that there are families among us who are homeless while we have empty housing stock sitting there, then we need to take urgent action. State housing is for the specific purpose of looking after those families most in need, that is its sole purpose – if there is a house available then a whanau must be allowed to use it.”

“Homelessness is also a public health issue. In our Relationship Accord we gave priority to ‘healthy homes’ recognising the need for appropriate responses to assess and improve the conditions of our living environments.”

Mrs Turia said “I have spoken to a number of Pasifika providers in South Auckland who have told me that rheumatic fever and skin infections are rampant amongst some of their communities, but their families believe they have no choice but to live in overcrowded houses or sleep rough.”

“That is totally unacceptable.”

Mrs Turia said “we need to realise that housing is not just a roof over your head, it has a major impact on your health and wider wellbeing.”

“Homeless families must be housed. It doesn’t matter what size a house is, if a whanau is in need then any house is better than sleeping in a car.”

“I intend to discuss this issue with relevant Ministers, including the Ministers of Housing, Health, Finance, and Social Development. We cannot tolerate families being denied what is a basic human right.”

ENDS

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