Over the past twenty-five years, the quality and affordability of New Zealand housing has declined drastically, says Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman.
Short-sighted and discriminatory housing policies have resulted in a society in which the poor and needy are suffering – in terms of both their physical and mental wellbeing, maintains Howden-Chapman. As recent research demonstrates the role of housing in burgeoning levels of inequality – and why an increasingly unequal society is something both rich and poor should care about –Home Truths: Confronting New Zealand’s Housing Crisis is a timely reminder of what New Zealand society has lost.
Charting the gradual withdrawal of government involvement in the provision of housing services and the growing gulf between homeowners enjoying a property boom and renters who cannot afford to purchase their own home, Howden-Chapman calls for urgent and robust regulation of New Zealand’s private rental market. Noting that in the 2014 General Health Survey, almost half of New Zealanders living in rental housing reported that their houses were damp or mouldy, Howden-Chapman reminds us that ‘the fundamental qualities of housing – that it be dry, warm and safe – should not be determined by a household’s income’.