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Quality And Quantity - The Real Housing Issue

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) is urging the government to not only consider the lack of housing supply as an issue, but also the quality of housing due to its clear link with respiratory disease.

The ‘Housing in Aotearoa: 2020’ report published yesterday by Stats NZ shows high levels of inequity between the living conditions of Māori and Pacific peoples compared to other New Zealanders, and gaps in the quality of housing between various regions.

ARFNZ compared the findings of the 'Housing in Aotearoa' report with those in the Foundation’s ‘Impact of respiratory disease in New Zealand, 2018’ report and found the same disparities in respiratory disease both by ethnicity and by the region that people live.

Māori and Pacific peoples are two times more likely to live in damp housing compared to other New Zealanders, and the same communities are more than two times more likely to be hospitalised for respiratory disease.

Diseases such as childhood bronchiolitis and pneumonia are much more likely to affect children living in poverty - bronchiolitis hospitalisation rates are more than three times higher for Māori and Pacific than for other New Zealanders, and childhood pneumonia mortality rates are four times higher for Māori children, and more than five times higher for Pacific children.

Letitia Harding, Chief Executive, ARFNZ says "As shocking as these statistics are, it’s not a mistake to find this direct link between poor housing and rates of respiratory disease - health inequity and its link to housing needs to be addressed in Aotearoa."

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Similar links can be found when looking at inequity by region. The Housing in Aotearoa report found that Northland, Gisborne and Auckland were the regions with the highest proportion of damp homes.

Bronchiectasis hospitalisations in Northland and Auckland DHB’s (including Counties Manakau) both appear in the top three areas for the highest rates of bronchiectasis hospitalisations, and deaths were highest in Tairawhiti DHB (Gisborne), followed by Counties Manakau and Auckland DHBs. Childhood bronchiolitis hospitalisations were by far the highest in Tairawhiti DHB (Gisborne).

"We need more homes, but we need good quality homes so we don’t see the same issues with our new housing stock in 20 years’ time" says Letitia.

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