Child Poverty Action Groups says New Zealand could do much more
to ensure sure all children grow up in warm, dry, secure homes.
In a policy paper on the impact of the housing market on
children released today, CPAG says major investment and
intervention is required to ensure an adequate supply of affordable
housing for low and moderate income families, particularly in
Auckland and Christchurch.
Housing Spokesperson Alan Johnson said, "At present, it's the
luck of the draw for families - their housing fortunes depend very
much on which suburb, town or city they happen to live in."
Christchurch and Auckland have been badly affected by rent
increases in recent years, while other areas in New Zealand have
not fared so badly. South Auckland and Christchurch East are under
particular stress. For the whole of New Zealand, rents have
increased by around 11% since 2009, around the same as Consumer
Price Index inflation. However, Christchurch rents have increased
by 20% to 30% over the past five years, with almost all of this
increase since the 2011 earthquakes. In Auckland, rents appear to
be rising about 10% faster than incomes, and have increased by 17%
in nominal terms between 2009 and 2013, with most of this increase
occurring since 2010.
Alan Johnson said, "Low income is a major barrier for families
and rising house prices mean increasing numbers of families are
unlikely to ever own a house of their own." Nearly 70% of children
in poverty are in Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) or private
"Unfortunately families who are renting experience face high and
increasing house rents, the quality of the rental properties is
substandard and deteriorating, and the rental market provides few
rights and protections for renters."
Inadequate housing has long term consequences for people's
health and children are especially vulnerable. Damp housing is
related to respiratory conditions in both adults and children.
Mould is more likely to grow in damp houses, and has been shown to
have a small, but significant respiratory effect on children.
Household crowding increases the risk of infectious diseases, and
people on low incomes living in poorly constructed housing may be
unable to heat the indoor environment to healthy levels.
CPAG has made six recommendations which would significantly
improve the provision of housing for children and families,
including building an additional 1,000 social housing units per
year in areas of high need, and introducing a Housing Warrant of
Fitness for all rental houses which covers a wide range of
indicators including social provision such as access to green space
and quality public schools.
The issues around housing are complicated and need long-term
solutions, which is why CPAG recommends a cross-party agreement on
a child-focused policy framework for the future of housing.
Housing market changes and their impact on children is the
fourth in a series of CPAG policy papers, called Our Children, Our
Choice, being released in the lead up to the 2014 election with
recommendations for policy change to alleviate child poverty.
Download the full report here: Housing market changes and their impact on