A healthy stable home for every child

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Labour will put the needs of families and children first with polices which focus on building stable and healthy homes, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey. “A healthy, secure home is the foundation on which a healthy childhood … Moana MACKEY
Housing Spokesperson
7 November 2011

A healthy stable home for every child

Labour will put the needs of families and children first with polices which focus on building stable and healthy homes, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“A healthy, secure home is the foundation on which a healthy childhood is built,” Moana Mackey said. Launching Labour’s policy from Auckland today Moana Mackey said access to appropriate and affordable housing is central to ensuring every child can reach their full potential.

“Despite National’s big promises, there are still too many unhealthy homes in New Zealand.

“The last Labour Government worked with the Green Party to kick off the ambitious scheme to insulate all state houses – appropriating $53 million in 2008 to complete the work within five years This is on track to be completed by the end of 2013 and means that thousands more children are now living in warm, dry homes.

“But Labour believes that the advantages that come from a healthy home environment should not just be limited to families living in state housing, hence a Labour Government wants to see all private rental properties insulated within the next five years.

“Labour’s policy will ensure that the nearly 400,000 children living in rented accommodation are in houses that are warm and healthy. It will also ease pressure on family budgets by making them cheaper to heat and reducing the costs associated with cold, damp homes.

“A Labour Government would also make changes to the way Housing New Zealand operates. Labour is committed to increasing and upgrading Housing New Zealand’s state housing stock and, unlike National, remains committed to the policy of income -related rents for state house tenants.

“Labour spent nine years repairing the damage caused by a National Government that oversaw a fire-sale of nearly 13,000 state houses, carried out no modernisation whatsoever, and introduced market rents, plunging tens of thousands of families into poverty almost overnight.

“The current John Key-led government has learnt nothing. National’s one-size-fits-all reforms to social housing and its restructuring of Housing New Zealand, removing pastoral care for tenants, are causing enormous distress to families.

“Labour is also committed to ensuring Housing New Zealand is more proactive at a regional level. Labour will reaffirm Housing New Zealand’s role as a social housing provider providing security and support for those most in need.

“A concerning trend in recent years has been the sheer scale of displacement among families. Displacement can occur for a number of reasons, not all of which are within government’s control. The situation in Christchurch is a good example.

“However, where families are displaced due to urban renewal projects, or due to bad government policies which allow a lack of security in rental situations, or a lack of financial support, Labour believes there is a role for government.

“State tenants should not be stripped of the recognition that they too contribute and benefit from being a part of a community. We understand that children who grow up in state housing have the same needs as those children fortunate enough to be growing up in secure and stable private housing.

“The negative effects of transience on children are well documented – resulting in lower educational outcomes, behavioural and interpersonal problems, and social disconnection.

“Labour will ensure where possible, that families who are displaced are given the opportunity to move back into their communities when they are rebuilt.

“Labour will also abolish National’s bureaucratic policy of reviewable tenancies, and instead allow tenancy managers to work on a case by case basis with tenants to move them on if their situation improves.

“In all decisions, the best interests and wellbeing of the children in that home will be paramount.

“Labour believes the not for profit community housing sector has a much larger role to play in the provision of social and affordable housing. However unlike the National Government we see this as complementing continuing government investment, not replacing it. We will be making more announcements in this area shortly,” Moana Mackey said.

ENDS

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