A "harrowing" report into Central Otago's housing issues says radical solutions are needed to address the accommodation crisis in the district.
The Southern District Health Board report says many people are living in camping grounds and "sleeping rough"; overcrowding of homes is becoming increasingly common; and many people cannot afford healthcare, heating or proper food because of skyrocketing rents.
It also talks about the "devastating" impact the housing crisis is having on the mental health of people affected by housing issues, and says the mixed housing now typical of some areas is exposing vulnerable people to drug use from their house-mates.
The draft of the "Central Otago Housing: The Human Story" report - believed to be the first study of its type for Central Otago and the health board - was released yesterday after being commissioned to investigate increasing reports of housing-related hardship affecting people's health.
At a glance
- DHB study into Central Otago accommodation crisis
- Outlines multiple cases of housing-related hardship
- Says lack of affordable housing negative side of boom in Central
- Makes 20 recommendations
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the report's contents were "harrowing", and he hoped the report would be the "absolute hand grenade that needs to be thrown into the complacent parts of our community that do not think the problem is theirs".
"If this report doesn't encourage the [Central Otago district] councillors and relevant board members to make courageous decisions in regard to housing in the new term, I don't know what will."
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The 34-page report lists 20 recommendations to address the housing issue, including establishing an inter-agency task force and "Central Otago Housing Action Plan". It also wants affordable housing included in the Central Otago District Council's district plan and economic strategy, and for the Cromwell Community Board to give the Central Otago Affordable Housing Trust land so it can roll out a "secure homes" scheme.
The report says Central Otago residents are being displaced by Queenstown-Lakes workers, and landlords selling rental properties or switching to short-term tenancies are exacerbating the issue.
It also says if the Central Otago crisis is not addressed, housing issues will spread to other parts of Otago and Southland, "as the local population continues to be displaced".
The report says the housing issue is affecting not only beneficiaries but also "the working poor".
It also says elderly people are struggling to pay rents; migrant workers are arriving unprepared and ending up in packed camping grounds; single-parent families following separation are particularly vulnerable; housing pressure is causing increasing domestic violence and stress, anxiety and/or depression; tenants are afraid to report sub-standard housing for fear of being evicted; increasing numbers of children living in unsuitable housing are arriving at school hungry and inadequately dressed; some homeowners are trapped in poor quality homes and unable to pay for repairs; social services are being negatively affected and potential first-home buyers are being forced out of the district.
• Two hundred residents and representatives from 25 agencies took part in the survey. Four property managers were invited to participate but did not.