State housing in Panmure, Auckland. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Dr Lance O’Sullivan: State housing is making children chronically sick

Dr Lance O’Sullivan has issued a challenge to Phil Twyford after concluding state housing is a direct cause of kids becoming chronically ill. 

I recently moved from Northland to Auckland and coming from there I thought I knew what poverty was. On my second day of working as a GP here in Auckland I was confronted by something I never thought I would see in this city. I met a 28-year-old solo mother who is working hard to bring up her kids. She brought in her 4 and 9-year-old children to see me. Her youngest child is chronically unwell and sick with asthma and respiratory problems. I asked her why, and she looked at me and said ‘Dr Lance, I think my home is making my kids sick.’ So I went and looked at her home, and this is what I saw:

Video taken by Dr Lance O’Sullivan inside an Auckland state house. Source: facebook.com/iwanttobehealthywhenigrowup

The house was cold, damp and there was mould on the walls and ceilings. There had been water running down the inside of the windows in the bedroom where the boys sleep. I asked her who was her landlord, and she told me it was Housing New Zealand. She told me that over the nine years she’s lived there, she’s asked Housing New Zealand many times to fix the problem. They’ve been once. They came to wipe the mould off the ceilings and walls, but they didn’t fix the problem. There is still water coming into the house and making her kids sick. She told them what the problem was – they needed to fix the gutters – but they told her ‘we haven’t got the equipment, we’ll be back’, and they never have.

Today I’m issuing a challenge to the minister of housing to talk to the minister of health – I can’t fix these kids if you don’t fix their homes. I know there will be many other people with the same story, so I’ve set up a Facebook page, My House Makes Me Sick, for you to tell your story to the minster. From that page you can email the minister and tell him to fix your house. Let’s all tell the minister to do his job, fix these homes, and look after our kids.

Kia ora.


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