Housing Minister supports UN call for housing strategy

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Housing Minister Phil Twyford is supporting the United  Nations' call for the government to create a national housing strategy to increase the availability of quality affordable housing to low income, Māori and Pasifika families.

Twyford has welcomed the findings of the UN committee and is on a mission to make it happen.

“Housing is a human right and it's a terrible scandal that so many of our people are denied decent affordable housing,” says Twyford, “We want thousands of whānau Māori to get access to home ownership, that's what we're doing”.

The report recommends the government adopt a human rights-based national housing strategy with a push to increase quality affordable housing for Māori.

“That's an integral call coming from the highest international forum,” says Hurimoana Dennis, manager of South Auckland marae-based shelter for the homeless, Manaaki Tangata e Rua.

“That's what we say, to have a national strategy, a national Māori strategy to house Māori because the majority of homeless people are Māori, Māori families”.

Under KiwiBuild, the Labour-led government plans to deliver 100,000 affordable houses over ten years for first home buyers.  Half will be built in Auckland at a cost of $500,000-$600,000, with apartments and terraced houses under $500,000.

“We're working with iwi to see how we can work together on large-scale urban development projects,” says Twyford.

“We want to ensure that Māori participate in these great building projects, building whole new communities, as well as ensuring that whānau get the benefits at the other end”.

“We've seen an improvement and different approach from this government,” says Dennis, “However, it's still sad to see families are coming to us for assistance who are mostly Māori”.

Twyford says Labour has dusted off the old work around rural areas to eliminate substandard housing in places including Northland, Bay of Plenty and the East Coast.