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CAN Calls For Action On Housing And The Coronavirus

The homeless and those in very poor housing will be most at risk from the Coronavirus, and Community Action Nelson (CAN) is calling for action now to protect the most vulnerable.

“It’s widely recognised that homelessness and inadequate housing go hand-in-hand with compromised health,” said spokeswoman Mary Ellen O’Connor. “People with Covid 19 living in parks and cars is not what we want in our community.”

O’Connor said a quick check with the many community organisations who attend Community and Whanau meetings in Nelson found that two thirds of them see housing as the major pressure on their clients.

“CAN is calling on all organisations with a stake in emergency, transition and social housing to do everything possible to house those most in need as we come into winter, with Coronavirus adding to housing problems for the already vulnerable.”

She said organisations such as MSD, who run the state housing register, Kainga Ora (previously Housing New Zealand) who build state houses, the Salvation Army who have the Housing First contract and any others dealing with the housing interface, should pull out all stops to get people housed and avoid worst case virus scenarios as we come into the winter.

O’Connor added there may be ways that private citizens could assist with the rental market as tourism falls off.

“Housing released from AirBnB could be made available for rent, easing up the very tight rental supply and eliminating some of our overcrowding,” she said. “Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is asking Kiwis to show kindness and CAN encourages anyone with extra housing to make this known through their own networks or through property managers. Any housing made available would take pressure off the current shortage and could even save lives in the coming months.”

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