Professor Paul Hunt
Chief Human Rights Commissioner
31 August 2021
Dear Professor Hunt,
Thank-you for the work the Human Rights Commission has done producing your ‘Framework
Guidelines on the right to a decent home in Aotearoa’ and the welcome announcement that there
will be a National Inquiry into housing referencing Article Three of The Treaty.
United Community Action Network (UCAN) is a Wellington-based community organisation that
works to raise the health and well being issues of marginalized communities and people to
enhance community health, wellness and quality of life for all people.
We have spent much of the last decade searching for a Crown agency willing to provide
substantive support for the housing element in our UCAN Health Charter (attached). The Charter
has been endorsed by over twenty significant organisations, representatives of the two parties in
government, and many people as individuals.
We share all the concerns you have outlined. We have found that, at least in the Wellington
Region, there has been no public agency willing to take responsibility for equal access to decent
housing for people with enduring mental illness. Health, housing, welfare and local authorities
have all referred us on to another organisation in a never ending circle. Your points about
accountability align exactly with our experience.
Over this period there have been a series of tragic events as a result of this systemic neglect. We
are directly involved in the inquest following the death of Kiaong Tan in 2016. We expect the
Coroner’s report to be completed soon and reveal very significant failures to provide ‘decent
homes’. Previous Coroners’ reports have criticised the same failings.
However we have been told that at present there are some attempts to reorient the health system
and address problems that have been revealed as support and services were withdrawn or limited
for people in these situations.
We are keen to meet with you to ensure that the National Inquiry into housing has a strong focus
on the housing needs for people with mental health needs and discuss how we can contribute to
the progressive realisation of decent homes for all, particularly for people with disabilities and
specifically for those with mental illness.