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A call to ‘close the gap’ in rental homes through curtains

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25 May 2023
Call to close the curtains man playing guitar 2023

A number of Aotearoa’s key housing and health organisations are challenging the government to ‘close the gap’ in rental homes, by making sure every home has effective curtains that hold warmth in. When our homes have effective curtains we are warmer, healthier and our energy spend works for all households.

At the moment, underfloor and ceiling insulation are required for rental properties to meet the Healthy Home Standards. Leaving window coverings out leaves a gap in home insulation for renters, allowing warmth to literally fly out the window, making vulnerable people more likely to get sick and having to pay more in increased heating bills.

To address this issue, Habitat for Humanity, Community Energy Network, Starship Foundation, Beacon Pathway and Sustainability Trust have come together to create Curtain Call. They are calling on all political parties to ‘close the gap’ and include effective curtains in the Healthy Homes Standards and are urging the public to get behind the Curtain Call campaign this winter.

Due to the gaps in current legislation, throughout New Zealand not-for-profits are feeling the pressure of delivering tens of thousands of curtains per year to lower income families living in rental accommodation. Habitat Northern Region CEO Conrad LaPointe says, “Through our Curtain Bank Habitat has hung over 11,000 curtains in the past two years in homes across Auckland and Northland, provided specifically to households where children and elderly are suffering from housing related health conditions.”

Habitat for Humanity Northern Curtain Bank and many others around the country see the need for curtains first-hand through the families they support

The impact of ineffectively covered windows is particularly hard on lower income people whose budgets don’t stretch to buying and installing curtains or paying high energy bills to heat their homes.

Paediatric Doctor Owen Sinclair (Te Rarawa) sees the effects of housing related health outcomes every day. “Every year, tens of thousands of New Zealanders are hospitalised with conditions exacerbated by cold, damp housing. Illnesses range from the common cold, through to potentially fatal illnesses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and rheumatic fever. We know that installing good insulation in homes makes a real difference to people’s health by holding warmth where we need it. Adding effective curtains is one more tool we have to keep people warm and well in their homes.”

Conrad LaPointe, Habitat for Humanity Northern CEO said, “We need fit for purpose legislation. The Healthy Homes Standards only including insulation and heating is like putting a hat and gloves on with no jacket and expecting to be warm. This has a real human and economic cost. We need to ensure our homes are healthy so that our children, families, and communities are healthy. The lack of curtains in many rental properties is a significant oversight, and the difference they can make to occupier health is profound.”

Curtain Call is urging the public to show their support for this practical solution by signing the online petition to make effective curtains mandatory in rental homes.

By looking after the health of our homes we are looking after the health and wellbeing of everyone in Aotearoa.

To sign the petition, or for more information please visit the Curtain Call website www.curtaincall.org.nz

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