New Zealand’s
human rights commission on Monday said that the country’s housing crisis is having
a “punishing impact” on the marginalized communities and leaving many people
homeless. The commission also launched an inquiry into the country’s real-estate

Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern had introduced a number of measures to combat the skyrocketing
house prices in New Zealand, caused due to investors capitalizing on the
historically low interest rates and easy access to capital under the government’s
pandemic stimulus.

prices in New Zealand have risen by nearly 30% in the last year, the highest among
OCED nations, according to Reuters.

housing crisis in Aotearoa is also a human rights crisis encompassing
homeownership, market renting, state housing and homelessness,” New Zealand’s Chief
Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said in a statement using the indigenous
Maori name.

“It is
having a punishing impact especially on the most marginalised in our
communities,” he said.

pandemic-inspired policies in New Zealand have made mortgages cheaper, with
rich Kiwis using the opportunity to buy bigger homes and increase their
property investment portfolios, in turn fueling further surge in prices.

The 30% increase
in the last year, coupled with the nearly 90% increase in the last decade, has made
it nearly impossible for first-time buyers and low-income earners to finance

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“The right
to a decent home, although binding on New Zealand in international law, is almost
invisible and unknown in Aotearoa,” Hunt said.

The median
price for houses in Auckland has increased by 25% to NZ$ 1,150,000 ($801,320)
in June this year from NZ$920,000 last year.

The rising
prices have forced families to live in emergency housing like motels, with
around 23,000 individuals and families waiting for public housing. The rising
inequality along with the housing crisis is perhaps the biggest challenge faced
by Ardern’s Labour-led government.