The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is concerned about reports of a housing crisis in the Hawke’s Bay area that has affected hundreds of children / tamariki and young people / rangitahi.
We are particularly concerned about reports of families / whānau being moved around motels in the area to accommodate tourists, leaving children / tamariki and young people / rangitahi detached from communities, schools and health care. As social workers know well, the impact of being uprooted from support networks can have serious consequences for child development and affect the ability of their parents or caregivers to access employment.
As media reports on the situation have made clear, the high number of those housed in motels or other temporary accommodation is a reflection of the lack of available or affordable housing for many families / whānau.
This situation, while particularly acute in the Hawke’s Bay region, echoes similar cases across the country, in which families / whānau and individuals are being forced into worsened financial circumstances due to low-income work, combined with the cost of living and an inflated housing and rental market. This was made clear in the release of data by Statistics New Zealand earlier this year, which demonstrated that accommodation costs are contributing to the level of child poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This situation in Hawkes’ Bay highlights the need for greater investment in affordable housing, appropriate welfare support to struggling families / whānau and a living wage.
The Association notes that initiatives such as papakāinga housing have been successful in improving the situation in the Hawkes Bay area, but continue to suffer from underfunding. We look forward to seeing greater support for such programmes and hope that all those who are in a position to influence the lives of those struggling with the cost of living crisis are moved to action, in Hawke’s Bay and across Aotearoa New Zealand.