University of Auckland: Housing deprivation for school kids revealed by Youth19 survey

As many as 29 percent of students experienced at least one form of housing deprivation in the previous 12 months, according to the Youth19 Housing Deprivation Brief from the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington.

The data are from a survey in 2019 of 7,721 adolescents from 49 Auckland, Northland and Waikato schools and kura kaupapa Māori.

“Most people would be astounded that so many young people turn up to school every day facing such serious housing problems outside of school,” says Associate Professor Terryann Clark, from the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland.

“In some cases, families are split up because their accommodation is too small. In others, young people are left couch-surfing, or, in the worst cases, sleeping in cars, marae or emergency housing, and yet they still turn up to school every day.”

When asked about the previous 12 months:

10% reported living in inadequate accommodation, such as sleeping in a garage, on the floor, couch-surfing, or sharing a bed because there was nowhere else to sleep
2% reported “serious housing deprivation,” a sub-category that included sleeping in cars, marae, hostels or emergency housing
15% of students said their families often or always worried about paying the rent or mortgage
10% reported their families had split up because of accommodation that was too small (because large houses cost too much or are unavailable)
7% said they had moved homes two or more times
“Change the housing market so it’s not so difficult for my family to pay the rent and actually have a roof over their heads,” urged a 13-year-old Māori girl who was one of the survey respondents.

While the Youth2000 series of surveys has been running since 2000, this is the first time in-depth questions on housing deprivation have been asked.

One of the prompts was Dr Clark and her youth worker colleagues in Whangārei noticing an increase in stories of students who were without safe, stable housing.

Most people would be astounded that so many young people turn up to school every day facing such serious housing problems outside of school
Dr Terryann Clark
The problems identified in the survey were not evenly spread.

“Youth housing deprivation affects Māori and ethnic minorities more frequently, which is likely to reflect larger issues of housing unaffordability and ethnic discrimination in renting practices,” the report said.

Youth with disabilities and Rainbow and takataapui youth were also likely to fare worse than others.

Another Māori student, with a disability, wrote that the one thing that would improve family and home life was “having a disability shower for me and maybe a caregiver to help me and my family…”

The report suggested a broad range of measures, including:

Ensuring that all families have enough money to pay for safe, dry and healthy homes and other basics like food
Increasing disability allowances for children so that families have suitable housing
Expanding state and social housing options
Rental regulation and increased legal protection for tenants
Disincentivising private investments in rental properties
Dr Clark co-leads the Youth19 study with Associate Professor Terry Fleming, of Victoria University of Wellington and other colleagues from the universities of Auckland, Victoria and Otago.

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