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April 15, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Raising the Roof

A community discussion last week tackled rising house prices and their effects, concluding that the status quo was not good enough and drawing attention to the issues faced by renters.

Joel Pringle from Australians for Affordable Housing and Charles Waldegrave from the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit talked about how housing could be made more affordable, but made virtually no acknowledgement of students.

Instead, the speeches centred on families on low incomes and living in lower socioeconomic areas. Students are often dismissed in discussions surrounding housing quality and price, despite being hugely affected by housing standards and rental prices.

Flatting students are often living in badly insulated, damp, unhealthy homes, with some flats having cracked windows, mould in bedrooms and unjustifiably high rents.

Waldegrave said budgeting practices are hurting students who have few alternatives to prioritising costs. Housing is typically the greatest expenditure for a student, along with other compulsory expenses like power. This leads to other necessities like food and medical expenses being neglected, leading to a lower quality of life.

“If you can’t afford to pay for good food, you get unhealthy … you get this negative spiral,” he said.

The speakers also held that healthy homes are an essential part of a healthy community and inadequate housing contributes to a myriad of negative side effects. Housing issues can give you little motivation to study, let alone get out of bed in the morning, and with low income comes high anxiety.

“If you feel like you can’t afford to pay for housing … you get very nervous, it makes you very stressful,” Waldegrave said.

Without decent housing, the social development costs end up higher in the future, across health, justice, and education.

One student spoken to by Salient is all for investment in housing.

“I think more houses is good, ‘cause more houses means more big ones in my bank account. That’s ‘cause rent will go down, you see! Basic  supply-demand.”

The average rent for a room in Wellington was between $150 and $160 per week in 2012.

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