Census puts numbers on Nats’ callous indifference to housing crisis

Just-released census data has revealed the human cost of National’s housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“The census shows more than 20,000 people homeless and living in dodgy and temporary shelter: boarding houses, motor camps, caravans and cars, and improvised shelters. 

“That’s a shocking figure, yet the true number is likely to be even higher because the census doesn’t capture most of those sleeping rough.

“Skyrocketing housing costs in Auckland and Canterbury have seen a blowout in the number of people living in motor camps (up from 2220 in 2006 to 4059 in 2013) and boarding houses (1602 to 2718).

“While Nick Smith is organising photo opportunities and blaming councils, and Bill English is selling state houses to foreign companies, 20,000 New Zealanders are homeless and living in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.

“This is the human cost of National’s utter failure to do anything meaningful to fix the housing crisis. 

“The numbers include 1605 families with children living in these situations. Think of the kids growing up in garages and caravan parks and what this does to their chances of getting ahead in life.

“Statistics NZ said the increase in boarding house residents ‘probably reflects the housing shortages in Auckland’. This makes it all the more urgent that Government cleans up rogue operators who are running slum boarding houses that are a last resort for those facing homelessness.

“Rather than the pathetic half-hearted measures National is proposing it should put in place a tough licensing regime and a Warrant of Fitness with minimum standards,” Phil Twyford says.