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Q+A debate: Is New Zealand's housing a 'human rights crisis?'

New Zealand's housing crisis has been labelled a "human rights crisis" by the UN, however housing commentator Ashley Church has called it a "nonsense statement". 

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Housing commentator Ashley Church and CTU economist Andrea Black debate how to fix NZ’s expensive housing market. Source: Q+A

Last week, United Nations' special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, said the result of New Zealand's homelessness conditions was "not just a housing crisis, it is a human rights crisis of significant proportions".

"These conditions indicate not only violations of the right to housing, but also of the right to health, security and life."

Today on TVNZ1's Q+A with Jack Tame, Mr Church and CTU policy director and economist Andrea Black debated the issue of New Zealand's housing crisis. 

"The real question is - is there a human rights crisis in New Zealand? If you're an individual who is having difficulty with housing at the moment then clearly for you, it is absolutely a crisis.

"But, in a national sense I think it’s a nonsense statement."

He said people who were homeless or on the social housing register made up 0.4 - 0.5 per cent of the population. 

"While for those individuals it’s serious, it’s not a crisis in total numbers," Mr Church said. 

Ms Black pushed back, saying she agreed housing in New Zealand was "absolutely a human rights crisis".

"Everyone should have a warm dry home without breaking the bank.

She said she tracked the rent index and compared it to CPI. "It soars compared to CPI, so we’ve got high rents and the other issue is quality."

Ms Farha had recommended implementing a Capital Gains Tax, rent freezes and restriction on debt to income ratios.

"Given the problem we have, everything is needed," Ms Black said.