UN Committee supports calls for a human rights based national housing strategy

UN Committee supports calls for a human rights based national housing strategy

April 4, 2018

The United Nations has supported calls for New Zealand to adopt a human rights based national housing strategy.

This support was issued by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recently reviewed New Zealand’s progress in areas including housing, health and education and released its concluding observations.

A human rights based strategy requires housing to be affordable, habitable, secure in tenure and accessible.

Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says any human rights based national housing strategy must endure from one Government to the next.

“New Zealanders, and particularly our most vulnerable, are increasingly experiencing the flow-on effects of successive governments over many decades neglecting to treat housing as a human right. The impact of this neglect on educational achievement, good health and other foundations of wellbeing is well documented.”

“Good housing is not something that some people are entitled to and others are not. It is a human right.

“We need to make sure our housing is accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities, that it is insulated and safe to live in, and that there is enough supply to meet demand,” Mr Rutherford says. 

“We are particularly pleased that the UN Committee has asked the Government to report back to the UN on progress on a human rights based national housing strategy within 18 months.

“We look forward to this Government working with civil society, business and their political colleagues across all parties to develop a human rights based housing strategy that will endure from Government to Government and ensure all New Zealanders are well housed,” Mr Rutherford says.

The Commission’s own submission to the Committee made several housing recommendations for action including:

  • Developing a human rights based national housing strategy.
  • Introducing legislation requiring minimum quality standards for heating and insulation in rental homes.
  • Review/amending the Residential Tenancies Act for greater security of tenure rights for tenants.
  • Increasing the provision of social housing. 

The ICESCR Committee also made a number of other important recommendations aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s compliance with international obligations relating to economic, social and cultural rights.

To read the Committee report, click here

To read the Commission’s submission to the committee, click here.