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Study highlights NZ disabled's damp homes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017

New Zealand is ill-prepared for a projected increase in disability as the population ages, a Victoria University study has concluded.

Researchers say a quarter of disabled New Zealanders are living in houses that are damp and hard to keep warm. The figure for non-disabled people is 16 per cent.

Across all ethnic groups, the number of disabled people in hard-to-heat houses is higher than for able-bodied people.

The largest proportions were Maori (36 per cent), Pacific (37 per cent) and Asian (33 per cent) disabled groups.

In 2013, a Disability Survey found that 24 per cent of New Zealanders were disabled, a proportion that rose to nearly 60 per cent for over-65s.

The Victoria research, published in the NZ Medical Journal, says the population is ageing and the number of people with a disability is increasing.

Authors Jacqueline McIntosh and Adele Leah, from the university's School of Architecture, say their study indicates that "the poorest and most vulnerable are living in the worst conditions".

They found that a significant proportion of the existing housing stock was far from suitable for the elderly or disabled.

They said the cost of home modification was expensive and not possible for many.

Rental housing was generally in worse condition than owner-occupied housing, and considerable financial investment was required to make it suitable.

"These issues have significant implications for the demands for care in cities outside of major centres," the authors said.

"The lack of attention to this situation has had a deleterious impact on both cost and quality of housing in New Zealand."

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