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Commission welcomes findings from UN housing expert

Graphic: Leilani Farha at a community consultation in Christchurch

Leilani Farha’s visit is the first to New Zealand by a UN Special Rapporteur in six years.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has welcomed the release of the preliminary findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha.

"Ms Farha's preliminary findings clearly affirm what many of us already know in New Zealand; much more needs to be done to address the housing crisis," Mr Hunt said.

"Our housing crisis is also a human rights crisis of significant proportions. The crisis encompasses homeownership, market renting, state housing and homelessness, as well as the punishing impact of substandard housing," he said.

"As Ms Farha has found, these conditions indicate violations of the right to health, security and life, as well as the right to housing."

Ms Farha's visit is the first to New Zealand by a UN Special Rapporteur in six years.

Her findings come after a 10-day investigation where she met with representatives from government, the Human Rights Commission and similar independent bodies, civil society organisations, NGOs, human rights experts, homeowners, renters, people living in insecure housing and homelessness, and community housing providers.


Graphic: A disused bus is used for housing


The Human Rights Commission, Community Housing Aotearoa, Te Matapihi and others helped to develop the schedule for Ms Farha's meetings with non-government agencies and individuals in Northland, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

"Many people raised the systemic issues created by the housing crisis: a lack of affordability, accessibility and security of tenure, which is compounded for Maori, Pasifika, disabled people, single parents, LGBTQI+, immigrants, and people living in homelessness or insecure housing," Mr Hunt said.

"It's important that the government maintains its momentum and addresses these issues."

The Human Rights Commission will launch a new program of work this year on ensuring that housing is understood as a human right for everyone: a right that can be accessed and claimed and used to hold State and private housing providers accountable.

The first step will be to identify, through a series of community-based meetings, what the right to a decent home means in the unique context of Aotearoa New Zealand. This work will inform the development of a set of Guidelines on the right to a decent home.

Read the UN Special Rapporteur's media statement here.

Read the UN Special Rapporteur's end of mission statement here.

Date: 19 February 2020

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Leilani Farha at a community consultation in Christchurch - Leilani Farha, Twitter
  2. A disused bus is used for housing - Leilani Farha, Twitter