Election 2020; housing policies3 min read
Our National Policy Analyst, Phoebe Eden-Mann, has taken a look at the housing policies currently available from the main parties. Here is her take from a disability perspective.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand has ratified, says disabled people have the right to adequate housing. A house is more than four walls and a roof, it is also a place of rest, comfort, and belonging.
New Zealand also has a housing crisis, with many people living in houses that are frankly detrimental to their health, and housing prices and rent soaring sky high.
Disabled people are more likely to live in homes that do not meet their needs and are of subpar quality. Disabled people aged 18 to 64 are 2.8 times more likely to report a major problem with dampness or mould. This is likely to be due to disabled people on average having a lower income, which in turn limits the housing options available to them.
Let’s have a look at the housing policies the main parties have announced, and what they might mean for the disability community. It’s important to note that at the time of writing (22 September 2020), the policies I’m about to talk about were the only ones available, and the parties may release more policies over the coming weeks.
All policy information that is discussed has been sourced directly from the party’s websites. I’ve examined the policies the parties in parliament have released. Those parties are Labour, National, New Zealand First, Act, and the Greens.
New Zealand First has not announced housing policies yet, but that may change in the coming weeks. If they do, I will update this blog.
As far as I could see only the Green Party mentioned accessibility or disability specifically in relation to housing (as of 22 September). It would be good if the other parties explicitly said how they plan to boost the number of accessible homes.
The order of parties below was picked at random.
The Act Party
The Act Party is proposing replacing the Resource Management Act with a new Urban Development Act, which they say will remove unnecessary barriers to building housing.
The New Zealand First Party
The New Zealand First Party is proposing:
- To provide low cost government funding to local authorities for new elderly persons housing and public rental housing projects through which long term 2% loan finance would be made available.
- To ensure the Resource Management Act is responsive to the needs of housing initiatives and not restricted by bureaucracy
- To continue building social housing.
The Green Party
The Green Party is proposing:
- extending the Kainga Ora borrowing limit in order to deliver enough new houses to clear the public housing waiting list in the next five years;
- expanding the Rental Warrant of Fitness to cover more areas; and
- requiring new builds to be accessible to disabled people through an overhaul of the Building Code with minimum standards for different types of buildings.
The National Party
The National Party is proposing creating the National Infrastructure Bank, which will provide finance and advice to central and local government infrastructure projects, including housing projects.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party is proposing:
- creating 8000 new public and transition homes;
- scrapping the need for consents for low risk building work (which includes sleep outs); and
- continuing the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme to include an additional 9000 low income households.
- To remove planning barriers to residential construction, including by replacing the RMA to reduce cost and complexity.
- To regulate property managers to protect landlords and tenants.
- To expand on the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Homes Initiative to improve the quality of housing to prevent childhood hospitalisations.
- To boost the number of accessible state houses to ensure that all tenants’ needs are met by requiring at least 25% of new public housing to meet universal design standards.
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