“The fact so many families are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table must be addressed urgently if we’re to provide the foundations for a good life for the next generation of New Zealanders,” says Scott Figenshow, Chief Executive of Community Housing Aotearoa.
He was commenting on the release of the annual Child Poverty Monitor by Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft in partnership with the JR McKenzie Trust and University of Otago, and available online at https://www.childpoverty.org.nz. Andrew Becroft says 148,000 children are living in households finding it difficult to afford the basics – and he’s calling for bold action from the Government, with a number of measures including increasing the supply of social housing (https://www.occ.org.nz/publications/news/childpoverty2019/).
Mr Figenshow backed that call, saying the provision of good homes for all New Zealanders is essential.
“This report underscores yet again that we need to work together across a number of fronts to fix child poverty,” he says.
“Having a good home – somewhere that’s warm, dry, safe and affordable – provides a foundation for a good life. Too many children and their whānau are missing out on things that many of us in New Zealand take for granted – a stable place to call home, and not having to choose between paying the bills and buying food or keeping the lights on.”
Community housing organisations already provide homes for thousands of people around the country and want to use their experience and knowledge to provide more good homes wherever they’re needed, in partnership with the Government and private sector.
“Every day we see the transformations that happen in people’s lives when they find somewhere good to live,” says Mr Figenshow.
“As a country, we need to come up with a national housing strategy we can all get behind and which provides the homes we need. All New Zealanders benefit if we can address child poverty, and as community housing providers we’re ready to make a real contribution to turning this situation around.”
He says the findings of the Child Poverty Monitor report are consistent with the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report delivered to Government earlier this year, which recommended fundamental change to ensure New Zealand has a social security system that is “fair and accessible for everyone who needs support, thus ensuring a better future for all New Zealanders” (http://www.weag.govt.nz).