For immediate release
Wellington, Sunday, 2 November 2008
Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Garth McKenzie (Territorial Commander) The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory
Slowdown means housing shortages for New Zealand's most vulnerable.
A report by The Salvation Army estimates a housing shortfall of at least 2500 dwellings has emerged in Auckland in the past year, mainly hitting neighbourhoods already suffering from the economic downturn.
The report by The Salvation Army's Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit suggests almost half of the deficit is in Manukau City, but is also significantly impacting on Waitakere and North Shore cities.
Figures released last week by Statistics New Zealand showed a 19 per cent decline in residential building consents in the year to September 2008 compared to the previous period, suggesting the rate of building is not keeping up with population growth.
Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts said the shortage will increase housing costs for low and fixed-income families, who are already suffering the most from the current economic contractions.
Overcrowding in some neighbourhoods is one of the potential dangers, he said.
For low and fixed-income families, the economics are fairly brutal: the more money they spend on housing means the less they have to spend on nutrition, health care and clothing,? Major Campbell said.
The Salvation Army believes it is now critical that the Government start planning to invest in low-cost housing to satisfy mid-term demand and provide some relief for the building industry, which the report estimates is in danger of shedding 15,000 jobs.
Given the lead-in times for such projects, it is essential preparatory work starts immediately after the elections, Major Roberts said.