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Which policies can fix NZ's housing crisis?

Which policies can fix NZ's Housing Crisis

Just what is the cost of poor quality, inadequate housing to New Zealand? It’s a crisis of epidemic proportion, with the shortage of affordable, secure housing and sustainable future-proof cities causing concern across the country.

It’s manifesting in social ills including homelessness, poverty, despair, health problems, high government spending on temporary accommodation that WINZ beneficiaries need to repay, lack of community connection, kids failing at school and a generation locked out of owning or even living in a decent home.

PrefabNZ, the New Zealand Green Building Council and Community Housing Aotearoa are co-hosting a free pre-election Housing Crisis panel. They are asking political parties to address the issues head on with proactive policies and plans of action,

The event takes place Thursday 7 September, 6pm - 8pm at Lecture Theater One, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington. Open to the public, free, registrations required.

The panel will feature politicians- Denis O'Rourke, NZ First; Geoff Simmons, The Opportunities Party; Julie Anne Genter, The Green Party; Marama Fox, Maori Party; and Phil Twyford, Labour Party. To date, no representative for the National Party has accepted to participate in the panel.

Guy Marriage, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington will chair the panel, with housing issue expert Garry Moore making an opening statement. Economist Shamubeel Equab will put provocative opinions to the politicians.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Head of the School of Architecture Dr Morten Gjerde says, “There is plenty of good will around solving the current New Zealand housing crisis, but we’re lacking initiative.”

Dr Gjerde says the Housing Crisis Panel event is interested to hear how political leaders will tackle the task of building houses that Kiwi’s need. “The question is: can we solve the current problems without intervening in the marketplace?”

PrefabNZ's CEO, Pamela Bell says active leadership is necessary to address the country’s home shortage. “Using technology, innovation and Kiwi smarts is a no-brainer. "We are seeking policies that encourage the uptake of more efficient and innovative building systems, materials and methods of production to meet the issues that are being exacerbated by a growing and ageing population. “This is about quantity, quality, and speed. Traditional approaches can’t achieve that.”

While the base problem is that volumes of new homes are required, says Andrew Eagles, NZ Green Building Council CEO, quality is essential. Shockingly, “The NZ building code is below the standards required in most IEA countries with comparable climates," he points out. “Government should modernise the Building Code. If better standards aren’t introduced, the homes we are building now will need to be retrofitted very soon.”

Working together is essential if change is to be achieved in the housing area. “Encouraging debates like this one, alongside PrefabNZ and the NZ Green Building Council, is an opportunity for having a collective impact, so housing solutions move towards seeing all New Zealanders well housed,” says Community Housing Aotearoa CE Scott Figenshow.

The event is free to attend. To book or for more details, visit http://www.prefabnz.com/Events/housingpanel17.

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