Every person in New Zealand should have a warm, dry, healthy home to live.
That is where our children should be growing up, our working families and our seniors should be living – not in overcrowded rooms or in leaky, mouldy homes or cars.
I have been deeply distressed during my term in Parliament at the conditions in which many South and West Auckland people are being forced to live. More and more working families cannot access this basic human right to a secure roof over their heads.
For a second winter in a row, Te Puea Marae has had to open its doors to make sure that there are warm beds and social services to support homeless families.
Build more houses
As New Zealanders, we do have real choices and we can make the right ones.
We do not have to accept Auckland’s housing crisis or the huge levels of homelessness, as the current Government has done, or that our young families can never own their own home.
Labour’s commitment is that we will house the homeless. We have for a long time now proposed that the better plan for New Zealand is to stop selling State houses and to build more State houses, while making sure that we have enough healthy and secure emergency beds.
Checking out speculators
Home ownership must be made possible again and we could achieve this by building more homes, by banning foreign speculators, by taxing property speculators who flick on houses at large profits within five years and by creating a level playing field for local, first home buyers.
Close to my heart is the need to take serious action to end homelessness and to make sure rental housing is healthy.
It is simply unacceptable that over 40,000 New Zealanders are homeless.
No more people should die or contract lifelong illnesses because their home is cold, damp and has mould. New Zealand will be a stronger country, a better country, when everyone has a decent place to live.
A better, fairer plan for New Zealand is: stop selling state houses; build more affordable homes and state houses; make sure we have enough healthy, warm, dry homes and emergency beds.
I am excited about our ambitious KiwiBuild programme, which would build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over 10 years and half of those would be in Auckland.
New Zealand is facing skills shortages in construction and allied industries, yet this ambitious home building programme will require a larger workforce – KiwiBuild is projected to create 5000 new jobs at its peak.
Under Labour, we will implement a Dole for Apprenticeships scheme and subsidise employers to take on 4000 young people for on-the-job training.
Free post-school education would further support growing a skilled workforce. It became clear during our Future of Work Commission research that this is the way to support tens of thousands more people to learn and to upskill in all fields, including building and construction.
It is important to make sure that our social housing sector works properly.
We should make Housing New Zealand into a public service, to put people first before profits and not to continue to milk this social service for a dividend.
It is essential that all rental homes are warm, dry and healthy and the government can choose to set the parameters for this by setting basic standards for rental properties standards in: insulation, heating, ventilation, draught stopping, and drainage.
This will ensure people who live in rental accommodation stay healthier.
For additional reading, please visit http://www.labour.org.nz/housing
Jenny Salesa is elected Member of Parliament from Manukau East and Labour Party’s Spokesperson for Skills and Training.