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20,000 homes. “New arrivals need somewhere to live the moment they step off the plane, but councils, government and industry haven’t been able to cater for that demand. The government blames land zoning but that’s nonsense – they have a 30-year supply of undeveloped land. They needs to take a handson approach with State housing and State-led residential developments. “Back in the day families used to be able get low-interest loans from State Advances and capitalise on Family Benefit payments.” The Family Benefit was introduced in 1946 and families could access 3% State Advances Corporation loans. By the 1970s, home ownership in New Zealand had reached 70% as baby boomers began to marry and start a family.

find a home. “Migrants are putting pressure on the housing market, but it’s really important we don’t blame them for our housing problems,” says Mr Johnson. “The government has been pursuing a liberal immigration policy and allowing migrants to come in without providing the infra- structure needed to support them. “Migrants bring money and contribute to Auckland’s growth by spending on new houses, cars, whiteware and appliances, which bolsters our economy. They’re coming to New Zealand to access to our social resources – I’ve got no problem with that – but it’s tough on everyone if the government isn’t meeting people’s needs for housing, schools and hospitals. New Zealand’s net immigration figures are around 90,000 a year, and this includes returning Kiwis. Last year Auckland’s population grew by about 60,000, requiring some 15-

RENTAL HOMES Auckland rents have increased much faster than background inflation and wages, and Wellington is experiencing modest rent rises. Christchurch rents rose about 35% after the earthquake – and the demand created by migrating workers during the rebuild – but this is tapering off as damaged housing stock is replaced. Children’s Commissioner, Russell Wills, who is also a paediatrician with the Hawkes Bay District Health Board, says more than 40,000 children are admitted to New Zealand hospitals each year due to poverty and housing-related illnesses, and some children die. In 2012 Wills’ expert advisory group on child poverty recommended targeting the poor quality of rental housing by introducing minimum health and safety standards for building, determined by an agreed warrant of fitness. But this hasn’t happened. Respiratory diseases have increased and Third World illnesses like acute rheumatic fever and tuberculosis are emerging.

A University of Otago study reports that rental housing is often in poorer condition than social housing or privately owned homes, and a 2010 Building Research Association (BRANZ) survey showed that 43% of rentals had ‘moderate to high levels’ of mould. “Greedy investors often look to maximise profits without reflecting on the welfare of their tenants,” Mr Johnson observes. “Some landlords have increased rents by $50 a week so I think it’s unreasonable for them to say they can’t afford to insulate their properties. “Landlords need to think about justice and fairness and ask ‘Would I let my kids or grand-kid live in this house?’ If the answer is ‘No’ they should improve the property.” Few landlords have taken advantage of government subsidises to retro-fit insulation and clean heating in cold old house, available through the Warm up NZ: Heat Smart and Warm Up NZ: Healthy Homes schemes. “Housing standards need to rise,” Mr Johnson asserts. “We need to bring in minimum standards for insulation, building materials and energy efficiency and deter ‘cowboys’ in the construction industry. Our minimum housing standards are based on regulations made in 1947 – imagine building cars and aeroplanes to 1947 standards!” BOOMERS Baby boomers are people born between1946 and 1965. The oldest boomers began receiving national superannuation in 2011, and by 2031 one million Kiwis will be aged over 65, twice the current number. A recent Salvation Army report estimates that 200,000 baby boomers living in Auckland don’t own their own home. “There is a whole host of reasons for this including business failure, financial losses, high interest | 17

The Christian Pulse August/September 2016  

Welcome to the latest issue of The Christian Pulse, the magazine for This issue we feature 'How Not to Sacrifice Y...

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