At least 4000 in crowded homes

The Nelson Mail 1 November 2007
More than 4000 people in the Nelson region are living in crowded conditions – a phenomenon some support agencies say is because of high rental costs and house prices. Statistics released from the Ministry of Social Development show that in 2006, 2103 people in Nelson and 1959 people in the Tasman district were living in houses defined as crowded under the Canadian Occupancy Standard. The problem had lessened during the past 20 years, but some agencies say solutions were unlikely to be found as housing affordability in the region worsened. Major Jill Knight of Nelson’s Salvation Army said the figures were not a surprise, and high rents and the fact that extended or blended families were living together contributed to crowded conditions. It was quite common to find beds set up in the lounge and children sleeping in their parents’ bedroom, with a number sharing another bedroom, she said. “It’s all part of the whole syndrome of affordable housing.”The figures showed people with Pacific Island, Asian and Maori backgrounds were over-represented, while people aged 15-24 were most likely to be living in crowded situations. A household is defined as crowded when one or more extra bedrooms are needed to accommodate its members. Nationally, 389,600 people, or 10 percent of the population, were considered to be living in crowded conditions.