Major investment is needed to ensure enough homes are available for vulnerable families, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, a new study says.
Support from medical professionals and anti-poverty campaigners for all private rentals to be subject to warrants of fitness is also gaining momentum as concern over the country's rental stocks and housing affordability mounts.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says access to quality housing is currently "luck of the draw" and unhealthy homes are leading to unhealthy children.
Housing spokesman Alan Johnson said lack of income was the main barrier.
"Tenants are dealing with high and rising rents, substandard and deteriorating houses and few rights," he said.
CPAG has made a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national housing plan and forcing all rentals to pass a warrant of fitness.
It also wants to see 1000 social housing units built each year to meet need.
"While the initial cost in money terms may seem large, in the long run for our children they are economically efficient and socially just choices."
The call for a warrant of fitness has been echoed by the New Zealand Medical Students Association and Medical Students for Global Awareness, which this week wrote to politicians demanding action, and by the He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme.
Programme director Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, who ran a warrant of fitness pilot in five cities earlier this year, said it was needed.
"There are all sorts of things that are claimed that are going to happen as a result of it - poor people are going to go homeless etcetera, but we don't think that's actually going to happen . . . it's an ideal thing to actually test."
- The Dominion Post
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