Every child has a right to live in a safe, healthy and secure home. Under our obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child has a right to a standard of living adequate to support the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
But too many tamariki in Aotearoa New Zealand are missing out on this basic right because of our housing crisis.
Home is where the heart is
An affordable and healthy home is central to child wellbeing. A home should be a place of safety, a place to rest and re-energise, a place to connect with family and whānau, a place to learn and a place to grow.
When housing is affordable and healthy, it allows children to put down roots in their community and provides a stable base for them to grow, develop and form their own identity.
But throughout New Zealand, families are being pushed into poverty due to the high cost of housing, while tens-of-thousands of children each year are being admitted to hospital with preventable diseases caused by unhealthy living conditions, many which are rarely found in most of the world’s wealthier nations.
The impact of the housing crisis on children and families is not evenly spread.
- 7% of all children in New Zealand – 11% of Maori and 17% of Pasifika children – live in households with major problems, including dampness or mould.
- More than 30,000 of Kiwi children are admitted into hospital every year with preventable illnesses from unhealthy housing
- The number of households on the public housing wait-list has grown from 3,352 in 2015 to 18,520 by 2020. (Of these, 16,651 households are assessed as ‘Priority A’ – or ‘at risk’, with a severe and persistent housing need requiring immediate assistance).
- 36% of children and young people live in households spending more than 30% of income on housing
- 20% of children live in households where food runs out often or sometimes
How we got here
New Zealand’s housing crisis is not an accident. Historic under-investment in public housing, the sale of state homes, lack of protection for renters and a tax system which favours home owners and property investors are all systems settings which have contributed to the housing crisis, but which can be changed.
Access to an affordable and healthy home is crucial to supporting families to be lifted out of poverty, poor health and insecurity. The next government needs to have a clear and comprehensive plan for fixing the housing crisis, with a goal to uphold the right of every child in New Zealand to grow up in an affordable and healthy home.