The Families Commission says cold, damp and unaffordable housing is stopping parents getting the help they need for their children.
The commission says the stress of living in bad conditions can prevent low-income families accessing support because they are too busy meeting basic needs.
Acting chief executive Angela Tidmarsh says it's well known that damp and overcrowded housing increases the rate of infectious diseases and illnesses such as asthma, however the stress of living in bad conditions can also prevent families accessing parenting support.
The commission's comments are part of its submission to a wider inquiry into housing affordability.
Ms Tidmarsh says one option they are proposing is a rating and accreditation system to ensure rental houses meet a minimum standard.
The Child Poverty Action Group co-director says a ratings system would be unworkable. Alan Johnson, who is also chairman of Community Housing Aotearoa, says it would cost to much money to oversee.
Mr Johnson says the biggest problem is not poor housing, but a lack of housing.