Budget boost for warmer homes will bring healthy, safe places for New Zealanders but leaves thousands in the cold.

14 May 2020

Boost for warmer homes will bring healthy, safe places for New Zealanders but leaves thousands in the cold.

The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund will see $56 million injected into the Warmer Kiwi Homes, further lowering the barrier for our most vulnerable to live in warmer, drier, healthier homes. However, it still leaves hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in the cold.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve been pushing for the Government to expand this crucial programme,” the New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles says.

“The Government says this will help improve an additional 9,000 homes. This is a welcome expansion, however we know that 40 percent of our homes are damp and mouldy – leaving thousands more in the cold.”

The Warmer Kiwi Homes programme was originally targeting just over 50,000 homes over 4 years. Given we have half a million damp and mouldy private homes it would take 40 years to rid Aotearoa of these unhealthy homes. Even then, it leaves many healthy, energy efficiency measures out and those homes will be nowhere near the low carbon standard that we need to meet our climate change commitments.

On Monday, the Green Building Council unveiled a report showing that improving 120,000 New Zealand homes to the healthy standards that Kiwis deserve would deliver a net benefit of $1.5 -$3.1 billion.

“Seizing the chance to improve the health of 120,000 New Zealand homes could have given the country a much needed benefit of over $3 billion, lower carbon emissions, and create over 1,000 new jobs. It would also have made our homes warmer, healthier places for Kiwis to thrive in.”

The report also showed how doing so would also deliver on key government policies such as protecting vulnerable families, achieving equitable housing outcomes for Māori, eliminating energy hardship and assisting Aotearoa to transition to the jobs of the future.

“It’s now essential that some of the $20 billion that the Government is keeping up its sleeve is allocated to significantly expanding this scheme. Until then, far too many New Zealand homes remain hovel-ready.”

“NZGBC would like to see the shovel ready projects contribute to green collar jobs and create a sustainable, greener future for Aotearoa. There is a real concern that the environment is being run roughshod over with unclear criteria and that these shovel ready projects will adversely impact Aotearoa."