Kerre McIvor: Moving people into stable housing necessary to break poverty cycle

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Publish Date
Mon, 7 Sep 2020, 4:02PM
(Photo / File)

Kerre McIvor: Moving people into stable housing necessary to break poverty cycle

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Publish Date
Mon, 7 Sep 2020, 4:02PM

We were talking on Friday about the shocking UNICEF report that showed how poorly our children are doing on so many many markers. 

I'm sure you'll have seen the results by now - we were failing on just about every measure except air quality and water pollution. 

And then as if to prove the point, a 10 month old baby dies in Starship Hospital over the weekend from injuries inflicted in the home. 

A child is killed every five weeks in this country and there are 14,000 substantiated cases of child abuse every year. 

Most of us have a child whose death touched us particularly.  Mine is Delcelia Whitaker and she was born the same time as my daughter.  Every landmark stage of my daughter's life - the first time she could read a book herself, her first day of school, her school ball, graduation from university, marriage and children, I thought of Delcelia. 

Those of us who can't contemplate harming the babies in our care can't even begin to imagine what would drive an adult to hurt a child.  And what you don't understand you can't fix.  But as we were discussing this on Friday, a caller Tony rang in and said he thought the key to improving outcomes for New Zealand kids was a roof over their heads they could call home.  

And the stats back him up.  

The Housing Foundation said the research showed actively supporting affordable home ownership for low and middle-income families was beneficial for all. They say that “moving people along the housing continuum reduces the long-term liability to the Crown, improves household outcomes, builds communities and is morally and fiscally the right course to take”.

It found home-ownership was linked to better health, crime and educational outcomes - even once a person's socio-economic status was taken into account - benefits it said could carry on into future generations.

And I was thinking about this over the weekend, because as part of that discussion on Friday, we had a young woman ring in and say poverty is the reason why so many of our young people are failing, but that's not the sole issue. 

I pointed out plenty of our parents grew up in households where they could have been classified as living in poverty with one or two parents who were less than ideal - but the children grew up to be capable, functioning members of society, able to contribute and raise their own families - in effect, correcting the ills of the past, not perpetuating them. 

Why were they able to break the cycle, when this generation can't?  And one of the main reasons seems to be that our parents grew up in well-built state houses.  They were warm and dry with veggie gardens that parents used to supplement the family meals.  They could go to the same school, all through primary and the same college until they graduated - albeit in hand-me-down clothes.

A safe home is a haven.  Imagine trying to create a safe space in a motel.  Or try to get a good night’s sleep when you're jammed in one room with four other kids.  It's absolutely fundamental to people's wellbeing to feel safe and secure and surely nothing represents security more than your own home.