Plunket calls for housing strategy

Plunket says data analysed by the New Zealand Herald, which links poor housing with increasing numbers of children being hospitalized with preventable diseases, reflects what many Plunket nurses are seeing each and every day.

“Plunket is welcomed in to 9 in 10 homes of families with newborns and our nurses and health workers regularly see young children getting sick time and again from illnesses caused by living in cold, damp, overcrowded housing,” said Plunket’s Chief Executive Amanda Malu. “Young children’s health and wellbeing is bearing the brunt of the housing crisis and this is an unacceptable cost. We would like to see a commitment from all political parties to a national housing strategy that specifically addresses the needs of children.”


Plunket is concerned about impacts of poor quality housing on children’s health across the country, and particularly at the disproportionate impact of inadequate housing on the health and wellbeing of Māori and Pacific tamariki. “It’s unacceptable that Māori and Pacific families continue to be overrepresented in poverty statistics, and are less likely to have access to adequate housing. We need policies that level the playing field, starting with every child in New Zealand growing up in a house that is warm, dry, safe, ventilated and not overcrowded,” said Amanda Malu.

Increasingly, Plunket is seeing landlords renting out houses by the room and overcrowding is common, which can lead to illnesses spreading more quickly. A Hawke’s Bay Plunket nurse recently described some of the homes she visits as ‘cold to the bone, damp and covered in mould’. There are often no curtains, holes in the floor and families cannot afford to heat them.  This means cold homes and sick kids.” 

“In Wellington, a Plunket nurse worked with a family with a new baby who were living in a damp, cold, overcrowded house, and together with a number of health and social work professionals advocated successfully to find them a better home. But there is only so much our nurses can do, and there are many families who are stuck in homes that are making their children ill.”

Plunket says that families are being placed in an impossible position. “This is a systemic issue and policies are needed to increase access to quality houses for families.”

Tags: 0 Comments Posted by Jen Riches on 31 August 2017

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