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Disability and housing conditions: 2013

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MIL OSI – Source: Statistics New Zealand – Release/Statement

Headline: Disability and housing conditions: 2013

Disability and housing conditions: 2013 compares housing characteristics of disabled and non-disabled people living in private dwellings using data from the 2013 New Zealand Disability Survey (NZDS).

This article examines the housing situations of disabled and non-disabled adults and children, such as whether the household owns their own home, and who they live with. We compare the disabled and non-disabled populations in terms of housing measures including difficulty of keeping their house warm, whether they experience dampness in their home, and whether the size of their home is adequate.

Disabled people with physical and vision limitations may also need housing modifications to make their home accessible. We discuss the extent to which disabled people use housing modifications and whether there is any unmet need.

See also:

Summary of key points

Disabled people are on average older than non-disabled people, therefore several of these key points factor in this difference.

  • Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to live in rental accommodation.
  • Disabled people were as likely to live in an owner-occupied home as non-disabled people but only because disabled people are on average older than non-disabled people and older people are more likely to live in owner-occupied homes. 
  • Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to live alone or in a couple-only household, reflecting the older average age.
  • Disabled children were more likely than non-disabled children to live in a home that was too small for their needs. They are more likely to need extra bedrooms.
  • 25 percent of disabled people reported having difficulty keeping their home warm, compared with 18 percent of non-disabled people. 
  • 18 percent of disabled people said their home was damp, compared with 13 percent of non-disabled people. 
  • Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to report ‘other’ problems with their house. These include problems with weather-tightness and structural integrity, and other internal and external building integrity and internal environment issues. 
  • 32 percent of disabled people with a physical impairment used building modifications (such as ramps and handrails) to improve accessibility to, or within, their home. 
  • 17 percent people with a physical impairment had a need for modifications to their home to improve accessibility.

Disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to live in rental accommodation

Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to live in rental accommodation in each major age group. Figure 1 shows the tenure distribution for the total disabled and non-disabled populations after adjusting for age differences between them (see also table 1).

Figure 1

Table 1  

Age-adjusted tenure rates of household
By disability status
2013
Tenure of household 

Disability status

    Total   

   Disabled   

 Non-disabled

Percent 

Owner-occupied 

48 

53 

52 

Rented 

38 

30 

32 

In a family trust 

13 

17 

16 

Source: Stats NZ 

Income could be a contributing factor to the greater likelihood for disabled people to live in rented accommodation. Disabled people have a lower labour force participation rate (50 percent) than non-disabled people (76 percent). Of those in the labour force, disabled workers have lower incomes than non-disabled workers (Statistics NZ, 2014). The median income of people who rent their homes is lower than those who live in owner-occupied dwellings or homes in a family trust (Statistics NZ, 2016).

Without adjusting for age groups, a comparison of the total disabled and non-disabled populations showed no difference in the tenure of the dwelling in which people live (see the ‘total’ row in table 2). Approximately half lived in owner-occupied homes, regardless of disability status. A further third lived in homes that were rented, and the rest lived in a home held in a family trust.

This observed similarity in tenure was driven largely by the older structure of the disabled population. Disabled people were older on average than non-disabled people (51 years compared with 33 years for non-disabled people), and older people are more likely than younger people to own their homes or live in dwellings owned by a family trust. Over 80 percent of people aged 65 and over lived in a dwelling that is owned by the household or held in a family trust. This compared with around 60 percent for people aged 15–44 years.

Table 2

Household tenure type
By age group and disability status
2013

Age group

 Disability status

 Total

 Disabled

Non-disabled

 Owner-occupied

 Rented 

In a family trust

Owner-occupied

 Rented 

In a family trust

Owner-occupied

 Rented 

In a family trust

 Percent

0–14

41

46

12

48

38

13

48

39

13

15–44

44

46

11

47

40

13

46

41

13

45–64

 59

26

15

61

17

21

61

20

19

65+

57

20

23

63

12

25

60

17

23

Total

53

31

16

52

32

16

52

32

16

Source: Stats NZ

Disabled adults more likely to live alone or with partner only

Fifty percent of disabled adults (15 years or over) lived alone or with just their partner, compared with 30 percent of non-disabled adults. The difference was primarily due to the older age-structure of the disabled population. Disabled adults were much less likely than non-disabled adults to be living in a household made up of a couple with children, (see table 3). 

Table 3

Household composition for adults (15 years and over)
By disability status
2013
Household composition for adult

 Disability status

 
    Total  

    Disabled   

 Non-disabled

 Percent

One-family household
  Couple only

 33

23

26

  Couple with other people

3

4

3

  Couple with child(ren)

23

41

36

  Couple with child(ren) and other people

4

4

4

  One parent with child(ren)

8

7

7

  One parent with child(ren) and others

3

2

2

Two family household

5

6

6

Three or more family household

1

1

1

Other multi-person household

5

5

5

One person household

17

7

10

Total

100

100

100

Note: Children includes independent and adult children.
Source: Stats NZ.

Disabled children (under 15 years) were more likely than non-disabled children to live in a one-parent household – almost 1 in 4 compared with 1 in 7 non-disabled children. Fifty-six percent of disabled children lived in couple-with-children households, compared with 70 percent of non-disabled children (see table 4)

Table 4 

Household composition for children (under 15 years)
By disability status
2013
Household composition for children

 Disability status

    Total   

     Disabled    

 Non-disabled

 Percent
One-family household
  Couple with child(ren)

56

70

68

  Couple with child(ren) and other people

7

5

5

  One parent with child(ren)

 23

14

15

  One parent with child(ren) and other people

 7

3

4

Two-family household

6

7

7

Three- or more-family household

1

1

1

Total

100

100

100

Note: Children includes independent and adult children.
Source: Stats NZ

top

Disabled children most likely to live in a small, crowded home

For the whole population, children (under 15 years) were more likely than adults to experience household crowding. The 2013 NZDS showed that 14 percent of children live in a home in which there are not enough bedrooms, compared with 7 percent of adults (see table 5).

Table 5 

Child CNOS(1) household crowding measure
By disability status
Household crowding measure

Disability status

   Total    

      Disabled    

 Non-disabled

 Percent

Need more bedrooms

19

14

14

Enough bedrooms

32

30

30

Spare bedrooms

50

56

55

1. Canadian National Occupancy Standard
Source: Stats NZ

We measured crowding using the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS). This standard calculates the number of bedrooms needed for children and adults in a dwelling and compares it with the number of bedrooms available in the home they live in. In the CNOS calculation a couple, two children under five, or two children under 18 of the same sex can share a bedroom and all others must have a bedroom of their own.

Overall, disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to have spare bedrooms (see table 6). This difference probably relates to the older age of the disabled population. Rates of crowding were very similar between the two groups – 6 percent of adults living in a household that needed extra bedrooms compared with 7 percent of the non-disabled population (see table 6).

Table 6

Adult CNOS(1) household crowding measure
By disability status
Household crowding measure

 Disability status

   Total    

     Disabled     

 Non-disabled

 Percent

 Need more bedrooms

 6

7

7

 Enough bedrooms

19

23

22

 Spare bedrooms

74

70

71

1. Canadian National Occupancy Standard
Source: Stats NZ

We found some differences in crowding for disabled children. They were more likely than non-disabled children to live in a crowded home. About 19 percent of disabled children lived in crowded conditions, compared with 13 percent of non-disabled children.

Two measures relate to the suitability of the size of the house for its inhabitants – crowding (an objective measure) and where a house is too small (a subjective measure). The CNOS is calculated on the basis that some people can share bedrooms whereas individuals in this situation may prefer separate bedrooms. People may report their house isn’t large enough if they have too few living spaces for a multi-person household, or it because they think the size of rooms or spaces in the house are too small.

While disabled adults were more likely to have spare bedrooms, they were as likely as non-disabled adults to report that the size of their house was not large enough for their household. Inadequate size of the house was reported less with increasing age and disabled children were about twice as likely as non-disabled children to report their house was not large enough for their household (see figure 2).  

Figure 2

A cold, damp home more common for disabled people

Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to have difficulty keeping their home warm regardless of the tenure of their dwelling – 1 in 4 (25 percent) disabled people reported difficulty keeping their home warm compared with 1 in 6 (17 percent) non-disabled people.

The importance of good quality housing is well documented.

Housing and Disability: Future Proofing New Zealand’s Housing Stock for an Inclusive Society (Centre for Housing Research) suggested that warm and dry houses are of particularly importance to disabled people. This is because a disabled person’s impairment may reduce his or her ability to keep warm. Added to this, many disabled people remain in their houses for longer periods than non-disabled people.

People in rented dwellings were more likely than people in owner-occupied to report difficulty keeping their house warm. 

Figure 3

Finding their home to be damp was reported less often than difficulty with heating regardless of disability status or housing tenure. However, disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to experience damp at home. This was the case no matter who owned the home (see figure 4).

Figure 4

Thirteen percent of disabled people reported experiencing both cold and damp at home, compared with 8 percent of non-disabled people. Living in rental housing increased the likelihood of experiencing these problems together. Twenty-four percent of disabled people living in rented housing reported both cold and dampness, compared with 15 percent of non-disabled people in rental housing.

Disabled people are older on average than non-disabled people. Table 7 shows reporting of cold and dampness for the total disabled and non-disabled populations, after adjusting for age differences between them. Older people were less likely to live in rented homes, and people in rented homes were most likely to have difficulty heating and experience damp. 

Table 7 

Age-adjusted household housing measures
By disability status
2013
Housing problems

 Disability status

   Total   

    Disabled   

 Non-disabled

 Percent

Difficulty keeping house warm

29

16

19

Experiences damp

23

12

14

Source: Stats NZ

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Disabled people more likely to report other housing problems with their home

Ten percent of disabled people reported other housing problems, compared with five percent of non-disabled people. In the 2013 NZDS, people had the opportunity to write in a response for other housing problems. We grouped the problems into three categories – problems relating to:

  • internal integrity of the building 
  • external integrity of the building 
  • internal environment issues (see figure 5).

External integrity problems were the most commonly reported (including weather tightness, security, structural integrity, and the integrity of external materials). Forty-three percent of disabled people reported external integrity problems, compared with 33 percent of non-disabled people.

Internal structural problems were reported by one in five of the people (20 percent) who had other housing problems. This category includes problems with water and sewage, power, insulation, and working amenities (stoves, showers).

Of disabled people who had other housing problems, 17 percent had problems with the internal environment of their home. This compares with 10 percent of non-disabled people. This category includes problems with ventilation and air quality, lighting, floor surface, pests such as rats and mice, and mould. 

Figure 5

Other housing problems were recorded as a text response, and were coded along the framework presented in Measuring housing quality (Statistics NZ, 2015).

One in six people with physical impairment need a more accessible home

One in six people with a physical impairment (17 percent,) said they had an unmet need for some kind of modification to their home (see table 8).The most common need was for bathroom modifications, reported by 10 percent of people with physical impairment. Entrance modifications were next highest, with 8 percent having an unmet need. Other modifications people with a physical limitation recorded as a need were a modification in the kitchen, a modification to help them move about in their home, or another type of housing modification.

People were as likely to need housing modifications, regardless of whether they were in owner-occupied houses or rented housing.
As well as asking about need, the 2013 NZDS asked people with a physical impairment whether they have modifications in their home, and if so, do they use them. Thirteen percent reported they used entrance modifications such as handrails, ramps, widened doors, easy-to-open doors, and a lifting device to improve accessibility (see table 8).

A quarter of people with a physical limitation used modifications to their bathroom or toilet such as a wet-area shower, easy-to-get-at toilet, and grab rails. Three percent of people with a physical limitation used modifications in the kitchen or other areas of the house.

We also asked people with vision impairments about unmet need and current use of housing modifications to improve accessibility. Sixteen percent of people with a vision impairment had an unmet need for some kind of building modifications at home. Nine percent of people with a vision impairment had an unmet need for modification to their bathroom.

The most common modification used by people with vision impairments were in the bathroom (19 percent), followed by entrance modifications (13 percent). 

Table 8 

Use and unmet need of housing modifications
By impairment and modification type
2013
Impairment and modification type

 Use

Need

 Percent

Physical limitations
Entrance 17 8
Kitchen 3 2
Bathroom 25 10
Moving about 3 3
Other modifications 3 4
Total any modification(1) 35 17
Vision limitations
Entrance  13 8
 Kitchen 2(2) S
 Bathroom 19 9
 Moving about 3(2) 3
 Other modifications 3 4(2)
 Total any modification(1)  26 16

1. People were able to select more than one modification, therefore percentages add to more than the total. 
2. Relative sampling error between 30 and 40 percent.
Symbol: S suppressed
Source: Stats NZ

References and further reading

BRANZ (2010). BRANZ 2010 House Condition Survey – condition comparison by tenure. Retrieved as PDF from branz.co.nz.

Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand (2007). Housing and disability: Future proofing New Zealand’s housing stock for an inclusive society. Retrieved http://thehubsuperu.govt.nz.

Gray Matter Research Ltd (2010). Definitions of crowding and the effects of crowding on health: A literature review. Retrieved 30/11/2016 from www.msd.govt.nz.

Human Rights Commission (2010). Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. Retrieved from www.hrc.co.nz. 

OECD (2015). How’s Life? 2015: Measuring Well-being. Retrieved from www.oecd-ilibrary.org. 

Statistics New Zealand (2013). Disability Survey: 2013. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

Statistics New Zealand (2014). Disability and the labour market: Findings from the 2013 Disability Survey. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

Statistics New Zealand (2015). Measuring housing quality: Potential ways to improve data collection on housing quality in New Zealand. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

Statistics New Zealand (2015). Perceptions of housing quality in 2014/15. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

Statistics New Zealand (2016). Household net worth statistics: Year ended June 2015. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.

Citation
Stats NZ (2016). Disability and housing conditions: 2013. Retrieved from www.stats.govt.nz.

ISBN978-0-908350-95-7 (online)

Published 14 March 2017

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