New Zealand's Human Rights Commission launches investigation into country's housing crisis

New Zealand's Human Rights Commission launches investigation into country's housing crisis
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The Human Rights Commission in New Zealand announced on Sunday that it will hold an inquiry looking into the country’s housing crisis.

“New Zealand governments have signed up to a critically important human right: the right to a decent home. For generations, they have promised to create the conditions to enable everyone to live in a decent home, but this has not happened. Successive governments have failed New Zealanders,” Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said in a statement.

“For many people, especially young people, the goal of an affordable, healthy, accessible home has actually become more remote. These serial governments bear a heavy responsibility for this massive human rights failure which is blighting lives and communities,” he added.

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The commission also introduced a guidelines framework, which Hunt said will help define “what the right to a decent home means in New Zealand.”

The structure of the inquiry, timeline and composition will be announced later in the year, but Hunt signaled that the inquiry will be a collaborative process.

"The inquiry will engage with communities and officials and make findings, as well as constructive recommendations,” Hunt said.

With cheaper access to capital and very low interest rates, the property prices have increased 30 percent over the past year, Reuters reported. It’s led families to seek shelter in places like motels because the government does not have enough housing available to place families. 

The wire service noted that measures like discouraging speculators and taxing investors that have been introduced by the country’s prime minister have done little to alleviate the ongoing housing crisis. 

Though Hunt said he believed that the current government had made "a promising start" to address the crisis, he said that the inquiry was launched so that it could hold New Zealand's government accountable.

“The present government has made a promising start on housing, but it remains to be seen if it will do better than its predecessors and address New Zealand’s housing and human rights emergency. Based on the Guidelines, the inquiry will help ensure the government keeps its promises to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand," Hunt said.