Kōtuitui ki Papakura Trust getting ready to help bring south Auckland homes up to healthy standard after COVID-19 delays

It might be the middle of summer but in south Auckland, a private trust is getting ready for the middle of winter.

Kōtuitui ki Papakura helps people bring their homes up to a healthy standard but it's had to put its work on hold for two years because of COVID-19. Due to the delay the trust now has a waiting list of more than 100 customers.

Bubble wrap is used as a simple but effective method for keeping the warmth in and the bugs out of Kiwi homes.

"We are looking at four houses a week being retrofitted and house assessments," Kōtuitui ki Papakura Trust's Whānau leader Jan Piahana told Newshub.

Piahana works with whānau in Papakura, Tākānini and Manurewa which are some of the most deprived areas in Auckland.

Over 70 percent of her clients live in private rentals and old Kāinga Ora houses.

Many of them fall below the World Health Organization temperature standard of 18 to 21C and they need upgrading.

"Some were just new curtains and rails. But the bigger the house is - the more time it took," Piahana said.

Solo mum of two Krystle Ngawati is one of the original recipients of the Warm, Dry, Healthy Homes service back in 2020.

"We got curtains, we got draught stoppers and we've got the bubble wrap which I put on in the winter time, so just to keep the place warmer as a double glaze and that makes a huge difference," Ngawati said.

A difference that could save up to 20 percent of her home's heating loss.

Ngawati said the initiative taught her about cost-effective alternatives but also helped pay for full-length double-backed curtains.

"Until you learn the importance of keeping your house warm, dry I had no idea just how much of a difference it would've made just having different curtains," Ngawati said. 

"Financially honestly there is no way I would be able to afford these curtains on my own and it's something that is further down along the list," she said.

Piahana said at least 100 whānau were waiting for house assessments before COVID-19.

A recent funding injection has meant the trust can resume its service and more.

"We look at whether they need food. You can tell quite quickly if the kids are sleeping on the floor, that means there are no beds. And we ask them those sorts of questions and develop a relationship of trust so that we can work with them," Piahana said.

A third of south Aucklanders live below the poverty line and their children have higher incidents of hospitalisation due to poor housing and overcrowding.

"We believe that by wrapping around these young families we hope to be giving them a sustainable hand up and not a handout," Kōtuitui ki Papakura CEO Abi Bond said.

Kāinga Ora regional director Counties-Manukau Angela Pearce told Newshub in a statement:

"As at 31 December 2022, almost 90 percent of Kāinga Ora homes either meet the government's healthy home standards for rentals or had work in progress to meet them.

"Each week we carry out the huge task of around 600 healthy home upgrades to ensure our homes meet the new standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping.

"Despite the government's extended deadline of 1 July 2024, Kāinga Ora is working at pace to make as many of our 65,000 homes as possible compliant by 1 July 2023.

"We understand that for our customers with health issues, these upgrades are urgent. This is why we work in close partnership with health providers and community organisations to ensure customers with higher needs are escalated through a referral process.

"Kōtuitui ki Papakura is not currently registered as a partner for any of our Healthy Homes initiatives, however we will reach out to the Trust to ensure any of the families they work with are promptly referred to us so upgrades to their home are prioritised."

 Kōtuitui ki Papakura Trust getting ready to help bring south Auckland homes up to healthy standard after COVID-19 delays