Housing Action Porirua's Jasmine Taankink told Morning Report the prices were the result of negligence from successive governments.
"Initially eastern Porirua ... like Waitangirua and Cannons Creek were mainly state housing areas and were also an affordable place for people to buy their first home," Taankink said.
"Over the years, a lot of that state housing stock has been sold off, the majority of which now sits in the hands of the investors so they now have the monopoly of the rental housing."
Since 2018, the state housing waiting list since 2018 had fluctuated between 200 and 300, and emergency housing was often full and hard to get into, she said.
"It's absolutely really difficult."
Even when private rentals were available they were about $650 or $700, she said.
"For a minimum wage worker, that's their whole pay or more."
As a result, some families were moving to places like Levin or further afield.
"This means that it is more difficult for them to get jobs or higher education and all that's going to do is drive the prices up there."
One person in the community has had to move twice since 2018, resulting in them having to pay $15,600 more in rent each a year, Taankink said.
"That person is only entitled to an extra $12 a week with the accommodation supplement.
"It's meaning communities apart, it means that people have to leave the places they've grown up in.
"Families are definitely going without things. If one whole wage is going towards rent and the accommodation supplement isn't keeping up with the increases in rent, this means people are having to make choices about what to go without."
There was no quick solution to the problem but it required a change in political will, Taankink said.
"It's quite clear - over the last few years there's always been around 20,000 people on the state housing waiting list around Aotearoa and 2 to 300 of those in Porirua - that we need a significant commitment to increasing the state housing stock."