Low-income housing standards declining

Gillian Bremner.
Gillian Bremner.
The state of low-income private rental housing in Dunedin continues to decline at an alarming rate, Presbyterian Support Otago has revealed.

An ''Out in the Cold'' survey, conducted last year and released yesterday, investigated the quality of home heating, insulation, safety, soundness, value and the need for a common housing warrant of fitness.

PSO chief executive Gillian Bremner said compared with data from the 2004 survey ''Old, Cold and Costly'', the recent survey showed the standard of low-income rental housing in Dunedin was of serious concern.

In 2004, 36% of low-income housing in the city passed PSO's reasonable rental standard. That dropped to 23% in 2014, she said.

''Ten years after we first surveyed low-income families about their housing conditions, we've found fewer houses passed our reasonable rental standard assessment and, in one case, our researchers were sufficiently concerned for the tenant they referred the situation to our social workers.''

Mrs Bremner said the organisation was also concerned about the number of Dunedin houses being sold by Housing New Zealand to fund expansion in Auckland and Christchurch.

''Whilst we understand the urgent need for more government housing in those cities, we are concerned Dunedin will be left out in the cold with current political priorities.

''This document will be very useful in informing incoming government ministers and local body politicians about the plight of social housing in Dunedin.''

Mrs Bremner said housing was a fundamental human need and right, and civilised societies needed to make provision for low-income families to access affordable housing of reasonable quality.

''No-one should be forced to live in a house that's not weather-tight, cannot be adequately heated or have electrical safety issues because of their financial circumstances.''

The ''Out in the Cold'' survey findings were released by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull to about 50 people at Presbyterian Support Otago yesterday.

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