Opinion: callous cuts to warm homes

A warm cosy home with safe shelter from the elements is a basic human right.

As a country we need to ensure everyone has access to a healthy, sustainable home in caring communities. But the government has just made $178.5 million of funding cuts to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), significantly setting back this ambition.

EECA runs the Warmer Kiwi Homes suite of programmes, which are delivered via insulation and heating companies and through partnerships with Māori and community organisations.

Here in Ōtepoti Dunedin, some of these programmes have been delivered by the mana whenua-owned organisation, Aukaha Ltd, supporting both renters and homeowners.

Aukaha delivered the Otago Home Upgrade Pilot, for example, a pilot EECA initiative providing material interventions (insulation, ventilation, moisture control and heating) along with education and other support.

Aukaha’s report on this pilot will be delivered to EECA this month, but unfortunately the insights could be in vain, as funding for healthy housing and for our most vulnerable has been slashed.

Homelessness in Ōtepoti is at a crisis point, as temperatures drop further, and many rough sleepers are camped out at Kensington Oval.

Volunteers are doing their best, but the government prefers to prioritise tax-cuts to landlords over EECA programmes like the "Hard to Reach" initiative.

It’s a great leap backwards in terms of social and environmental policy from this callous government.

We know from work that Aukaha and other agencies have done that the homelessness crisis is growing and that there are a number of whare that simply cannot be restored to a healthy, habitable state.

We know that material interventions alone aren’t enough.

Social support is also needed (including budgeting services, but they’ve been cut by this government).

We know an increasing number of homes are in locations exposed to climate impacts, however this government has gutted climate programmes, too.

The Green Party of Aotearoa is focused on ensuring everyone has an affordable, healthy place to call home, a place to share with loved ones, to build a life, or to raise a family.

Poverty is a political choice that this government is happy to make but the Greens will not forget.

We need to support organisations like Aukaha.

We’ll keep advocating for climate-safe housing, for renters’ rights, and for urban development that connects people within their communities, rather than leaving them out in the cold.