Day 7: Building communities

26 Jan, 2013
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2013-01-25 12.07.05

Today was my first and only day on the Clarion Tour having had work but it was definitely a fun one. Volunteering is part of what Young Labour is about: getting out in our communities and making a real difference. The Clarion Tour is one of the ways we can do this. Today around 15 of us went to help with building a house for an organization called Habitat in Porirua.

Habitat is a charity that has been operating in New Zealand for over 20 years building houses to ensure that low income Kiwi families are able to own their own warm and dry homes.

Too many Kiwis are living in cold, damp, overcrowded houses and paying a premium for the privilege. This leads to health care problems particularly rheumatic fever and asthma in children. Every New Zealander deserves a decent roof over their head so they have an opportunity to get ahead and Habitat helps to provide this. Labour also has started to move in this area and have committed to building 100,000 affordable homes for Kiwi families over 10 years in a scheme called KiwiBuild hopefully working with community organizations like Habitat.

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The houses take around 5000 hours to build using mostly volunteer hours and companies donate or discount building materials. They are built to a high standard, fully insulated and contain many energy efficiency measures such as shower domes which prevent the steam escaping your shower. We had a chance to tour a completed house next door and they are well built houses, that one costing only $150,000 to complete.

The houses are only available to families unable to get a mortgage on their own and currently in housing difficulty usually with problems of over crowding and damp. The houses are a hand up not a hand out. Families have to commit to putting 500 hours of they time to building the house, once they move in they pay 30% of their income as rent. After a few years paying rent the families are able to use the money they have been paying as their deposit to buy the house from Habitat.

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Today we were helping on a home for a young couple with two disabled children who had been living in overcrowded conditions with 13 living in their current house. The house frame was constructed by students at the local polytechnic and as part of this the polytech offered the husband the chance to study there while they were working on it so the family comes out of it not only with a house but he now has a qualification in carpentry too.

We sanded, painted and helped out all we could for the day to get the house started. It was a lot of fun and it feels good to see you are making a real difference for someone else’s life. So ends the Young Labour Clarion Tour and the start of the Labour Summer School which will give us a chance to talk through the ideas that will lead us into the next generation.

If you would like to volunteer for Habitat they have a website at habitat.org.nz.

By Rob Carr

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