“Community housing providers and other front-line organisations have done an amazing job of finding homes for people during New Zealand’s Level 4 pandemic lockdown,” says Scott Figenshow, Chief Executive of Community Housing Aotearoa.
He was commenting on reports that rough sleeping in New Zealand had been all but eliminated in just six weeks during the lockdown (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12333758&fbclid=IwAR3t7_jxc5quGllx9gFuVK-Yl5lNUYh0hJythX6sgwwKHmySds2X4Z54b_0).
“Having somewhere safe to live during the lockdown has been an essential part of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19,” says Mr Figenshow.
“It has really highlighted the relationship between good homes and public health, with the ability to access adequate housing being absolutely fundamental to our country’s ability to prevent this pandemic from running away on us.”
He says organisations working with people and whānau who are homeless are to be commended for their contribution to the pandemic response.
“Not only have community housing providers and other organisations contributed to the overall national response, they have also assisted people to have what they need and, in many cases, helped them transform their lives.”
Mr Figenshow says the challenge now is to continue that work – and the way to do so is by focusing on increasing the country’s supply of affordable, permanent homes.
“There’s a real commitment to finding long-term solutions to homelessness so that people are able to live in homes that are warm, dry, safe and affordable. What we’re looking for now, and keen to help make happen, is to translate good policy settings into good neighbourhoods where people can thrive. That means increasing the number of permanent affordable homes available so that all New Zealanders are able to be well-housed.
“Having a good home is a basic human right and we have an opportunity to turn that into reality in New Zealand.”