Families are paying to live in places that are simply not fit to live in, places that make them and their children sick.
Catholic and Anglican church leaders, Cardinal John Dew and Archbishop Philip Richardson spoke out in response to the release of research by the Housing Foundation on the benefits of home ownership. “Families are paying to live in places that are simply not fit to live in, places that make them and their children sick. There are no consequences for landlords, but significant consequences for all taxpayers who pick up the costs of the consequences,” they said
“Churches and church agencies up and down the country are directly supporting those who are struggling, and our people at the coalface tell us that things are not improving.”
“They are seeing more signs of need, greater levels of poverty, more stress, and a growing gap between those who have, and those who do not have.”
The head of the Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Hutson, joined the bishops in their call. ‘Market-driven theories about how to address these growing problems are proving inadequate. Instead, it is clear that governments, councils, churches, investors, private property owners all have a part to play together to adequately address this crisis,’ he said.
Community Housing Aotearoa CEO Scott Figenshow pointed out that it is a good up-front social investment to seek to reverse the trend of declining home ownership. “We will be better off as a country in the long term if we support and assist home ownership and more tenure security in housing for families and individuals,”
Naenae Housing Protest
The Anglican parish of St David;s in Naenae in the Hutt Valley took their protest onto vacant Housing NZ land opposite their church with a weekend of action. St David’s vicar Martin Richardson described the situation in their area: “We see overcrowding, with all of the flow-on health and family issues. We see the numbers of people on MSD’s social housing register for this area doubling in two years – from 107 in December 2014 to 215 in December 2016. And we see 94 of these people are looking for housing in Naenae.”
Responding to the rapid rise in the number of people in urgent housing need on the waiting list for social housing, the Child Poverty Action Group is calling for an end to “band-aid” responses. “Government should develop for immediate implementation a 10-year plan for affordable housing, and reverse its current sell-off policy. It must commit a substantial amount of funding toward social housing and other affordable housing options in 2017 Budget and beyond.”
In response to the report opposition parties point to their own policies to increase home ownership, such as the Green Party’s plan to introduce a government-backed rent-to-buy programme while the Labour Party announced its own plan to build 400 new houses in Lower Hutt as part of its KiwiBuild home building plan.