10 August 2019 Stuff’s Cate Broughton: Why are Christchurch’s most vulnerable tenants freezing in council homes?

10 August 2019 by Jason Quinn
Insane focus on first cost is the why to ‘Why are Christchurch’s most vulnerable tenants freezing in council homes?’
“Hundreds of vulnerable, low-income tenants are living in dangerously-cold council homes. CATE BROUGHTON asks why.
On the morning Stuff visits Stacey Shramka, the temperature in her lounge is 8.4 degrees Celsius.
Outside, in the shade, it is 8.8C.
At 9.45am Shramka’s neat, sparsely furnished home is about 10 degrees below the World Health Organisation’s standard for comfortable warmth – 18C for healthy adults.”
“Shramka has an electric wall heater and an oil heater. But they are not turned on.
She says it is hardly worth it as the heat disappears through the thin, uninsulated walls and ceiling and she is trying to keep her power bills to a budget of $40 a week.
Her strategy to manage the cold is to stay out as much as possible, at friends, often only coming home in the evening for a hot shower before getting into her bed, equipped with an electric blanket.
The tenancy contract for the Feast Place unit stated it had no ceiling insulation and was exempt from the law “
“Health and housing expert and co-director of He Kainga Oranga Dr Philippa Howden-Chapman said research had shown insulation made a huge difference to the risk of hospitalisation and premature death for people discharged from hospital to an uninsulated home.
“So this may be expensive relatively but it is saving people’s lives and stopping hospitalisation and that’s more expensive.”
However, Howden-Chapman said the Christchurch City Council should be lauded for holding on to its social housing and setting up a trust to attract government rental subsidies when there was such a huge demand for social housing.”

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