Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says the Government’s announcement of a Warrant of Fitness for state houses is a stunt, and the Minister refuses to tackle the real problem which is poor quality private sector rentals.
“Nick Smith is the Housing Minister for heaven’s sake. If he wants state houses to be kept at a certain standard all he needs to do is write a letter to his CEO issuing that instruction. He doesn’t need a photo op, or a big policy programme. That is how Government works.
“This is Nick Smith trying to look like he is doing something about the problem of unhealthy housing. But he refuses to do the very thing that is needed, and that is tackle the problem of damp, cold private rental houses.
“Most poor people live in private rentals. Only 4% of Kiwis live in state houses.
“Very few private rental houses are insulated. BRANZ reckons only 22% of rental properties are in good condition. 44% are in poor condition. These are the cold, damp houses that are causing so many children to be hospitalised for respiratory and infectious diseases.
“Today’s photo op by Nick Smith is yet another re-announcement of the policy the Government released in last year’s budget. It is a re-announcement of a pilot scheme for something that is not even needed.
“There are a couple of hundred thousand children in New Zealand growing up in poverty. Most of them are living in private rental houses that are unheated and uninsulated. Too many of these kids end up in hospital with easily preventable respiratory diseases caused by the damp and cold. This epidemic of sickness blights the life chances of a generation of young Kiwis.
“This has to stop. Unfortunately Nick Smith’s latest photo op won’t make a blind bit of difference.”
“If National truly cares about fixing the poor quality of rental houses, they will have the chance to vote for my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill which may come up for its first reading tonight in Parliament. My bill will set minimum standards for insulation and efficient heating for all rental properties