Healthy Housing is a joint project between Housing New Zealand and District Health Boards (DHBs). The programme works with Housing New Zealand tenants in selected areas, and began in 2001.
Healthy Housing aims to:
- raise awareness of infectious diseases like meningococcal disease, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, cellulitis and respiratory diseases
- improve access to health and social services
- reduce the risk of housing-related health problems
- reduce overcrowding.
Healthy Housing is currently underway in parts of the Hutt Valley, Otara, Glen Innes and Mangere.
How Healthy Housing works
In partnership with the DHBs, the programme identifies the most appropriate sites for Healthy Housing by looking at hospital admissions for infectious diseases and the numbers of state houses in areas of high social deprivation.
Housing New Zealand staff and a public health nurse meet with tenants taking part in the programme, to identify housing and health issues in households. A DHB clinician reviews the information gathered from the interview.
The DHBs ensure tenants and their families can access medical support for any health problems highlighted in the interview. They also make sure that people are connected to social service agencies if welfare services are needed. Housing New Zealand responds to the housing-related information from the assessment.
Findings so far
In 2005, Housing New Zealand contracted Auckland UniServices to evaluate Healthy Housing's outcomes. This evaluation ran over three years, and identified:
- evidence that Healthy Housing has made a difference in the risk and rate of housing-related diseases, conditions and injuries, and improved wellbeing
- the programme's outcomes
- any barriers to the achievement of Healthy Housing objectives.
A report on the first year of the outcomes evaluation found that tenants who took part in Healthy Housing identified positive changes in family life, participation in community activities, and increased general health and wellbeing. The evaluation suggests Healthy Housing brings positive change to households, and greater collaboration between Housing New Zealand and DHBs.
How tenants are involved
Invitations are sent to all tenants in selected Healthy Housing areas. If you want to be involved, your Housing New Zealand area co-ordinator will ring you and arrange a time to meet with you and a public health nurse to talk about your housing and health needs.
The discussion may lead to improvements being made to your house to ensure it’s warm, dry and healthy. If there are too many people living in your house we may find another one that suits you better. Or, we may consider other ways to improve your existing home.
The public health nurse can offer advice on any health-related concerns you may have.