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Institutional challenges in addressing healthy low-cost housing for all: learning from past policy.

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Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, 30, 42-64

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This article explores New Zealand's policy efforts to provide good-quality affordable housing.

It emphasises the importance of addressing the quality of existing residential housing, much of which were built before the Building Code 1991. The paper examines institutional influences on housing regulation policy in the 1930s and 1940s. Regarding Māori, the authors outline that ethnicity was associated with ideas of morality and housing quality in the 1930s and 1940s, explaining that the government essentially had a hands off approach to Māori housing outcomes in this period yet Māori were also blamed for their substandard housing. As they explain, Māori were effectively excluded from state housing and State Advances loans through a policy of referring all Māori to the Department of Native Affairs. The paper also notes that the Housing Improvement Regulations (1947) would not apply to Māori housing as local authorities felt that the regulations would be too difficult to enforce. This paper uses primary documents, offering a fresh perspective on housing history, including the influence of organisational relationships, the redefinition of the housing role of the Department of Health, and how morality was embedded in policy. As the authors conclude, past policy and institutions can seem far removed from contemporary experience, but while the current context of housing differs from the 1930s and 1940s, the effects of the institutions and cultural norms have many similarities decades later. Achieving healthy housing in existing dwellings remains a policy problem, and part of this problem is the legacy of the past.

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