1,000 signatures reached
To: Parliament, Government Select Committee.
Support Healthy Housing in New Zealand
The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill will soon be having its second reading in parliament. This bill aims to ensure that every rental home in New Zealand meets a minimum set of standards for heating and insulation. Our petition is in support of passing such legislation.
In addition to this, we wish to show the government that the public strongly believes more has to be done to ensure that our houses are warm, safe and properly insulated. This will play a significant role in reducing preventable diseases in our country, including asthma, chest infections, rheumatic fever and much more.
Why is this important?
The home environment we live in plays a huge role in our own health, and the health of our families. Every winter in New Zealand, about 1600 deaths are attributed to people living in cold, damp homes (1). Compared to many other developed countries, New Zealand has much higher rates of people being hospitalised for lung diseases such as asthma (2). Living in cold, damp, mouldy environments places our families at much greater risk of having acute attacks. It is incredibly important that people with such illnesses are not treated just to be sent home to the environment that made them sick.
The World Health Organisation recommends that houses should be insulated so that they are at least 18°C, a minimum temperature where lung (respiratory) illnesses are less likely to occur (3). Unfortunately up to a third of New Zealand’s homes do not meet this minimum standard, with the average temperature in poorer households being 13°C (3,4). This issue is therefore impacting on the health of our poorest communities and needs to be addressed by our government.
It is also clear that insulating homes well would be much more cost-effective for the government. Programmes such as “Warm Up New Zealand” have shown that the savings associated with subsidising insulation and heaters far outweighs the costs by nearly 4 times (cost-benefit ratio of 3.9) (5). The government currently spends $5.5 billion per year on lung (respiratory) illnesses such as asthma, with much of this being preventable (6).
Without a doubt, we strongly believe the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No.2) is a step in the right direction. However there is still much that needs to be done. Together, we can make a difference in ensuring that New Zealand homes are warm and insulated, to improve the health of our children and families.
1. Nichol R. 1600 deaths attributed to cold houses each winter in New Zealand. The New Zealand Listener. June 2017. http://www.noted.co.nz/currently/social-issues/1600-deaths-attributed-to-cold-houses-each-winter-in-new-zealand/#.WT9lYy9meGk.facebook
2. OECD (2011), Health at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing.
3. Auckland Regional Public Health Service. Housing and Health in Auckland. Chapter 6: Cold, Damp and Mould. Pages 25-27. 2005.
4. Howden-Chapman P, Matheson A, Crane J, Viggers H, Cunningham M, Blakely T, et al. Effect of insulating existing houses on health inequality: cluster randomised study in the community. BMJ. 2007;334(7591):460.
5. Howden-Chapman P, Arnold R, Telfar-Barnard L, Preval N, Young C. Cost Benefit Analysis of the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart Programme. 2012.
6. Barnard L, Baker M, Pierse N, Zhang J. The impact of respiratory disease in New Zealand: 2014 update. 2015