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Substandard South Auckland housing: findings

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Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, , 1-12

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This study explores the significant impact of substandard housing on health in Aotearoa New Zealand, focusing on the crucial role indoor temperature plays in residents' well-being.

It underscores the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for optimal indoor temperatures and highlights the disproportionate risk faced by Māori and Pacific families, who predominantly inhabit low-income households and are more likely to experience poor-quality housing. The study details the historical and systemic issues, including colonization, residential segregation, and systemic racism, that contribute to the current housing crisis affecting these communities. The Auckland Wide Healthy Homes Initiative (AWHI), part of a broader Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI) across New Zealand, aims to create warmer, drier, and healthier homes for vulnerable populations. This initiative seeks to address the intersection of housing quality with health outcomes, particularly targeting families at risk of respiratory conditions and rheumatic fever, conditions that are exacerbated by cold and damp living environments. Data collected from temperature sensors installed in participant homes reveal that a significant majority of the dwellings fail to meet the WHO’s recommended temperature thresholds, thus exposing residents to conditions conducive to poor health outcomes. The study’s findings highlight the inadequacy of current housing conditions and the pressing need for comprehensive policy interventions to improve housing standards. The AWHI project’s data analysis serves as a critical indicator of the urgent need for improved regulation and support systems to ensure all homes, especially those occupied by Māori and Pacific families, meet healthy living standards. By connecting historical injustices to contemporary health disparities, the study emphasises the necessity of a multi-faceted approach to housing reform that incorporates cultural, social, and health considerations to effectively address the needs of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most vulnerable populations.

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