Auckland's hidden homeless

Auckland's hidden homeless

A growing numbers of families are being forced to live in cars because of unaffordable housing.

Government figures show rents for three-bedroom houses across Auckland have increased by 25 percent in five years, and that's spawned a new type of property market -- garage rental accommodation.

Social workers say some families are paying almost $400 a week to put a garage roof over their heads, and a social policy analyst says one in 10 south Auckland properties has a garage tenant.

"What you will notice is that if you drive down any road, probably every second or third garage has curtains in and windows in and people living in it," says social policy analyst Alan Johnson.

Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa has a growing number of constituents who call a garage home because they can't afford rising rent prices.

"We've been told that some people rent out garages at $200 a week," she says. "Some rent out at over $300 a week, but when you look at the average rent in Otara and south Auckland, $200 or $300 is affordable."

It's a part of the property market you won't find on Trade Me.

Newshub spoke to a group of 50 social workers who said families living in garages is common. We heard of one case with a family with two young kids had been living in a garage for two years. Their weekly rent? $380.

The squeeze on housing stocks is driving the demand for garage space. There are 4500 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list, and emergency accommodation providers like the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust have been turning families away for years.

"We house 12 families here," says Bernie Smith of the Monte Cecilia Trust. "We have another 32 families in long-term properties, but we have 30 families waiting to be here today who are in crisis."

But the Government maintains it's doing what it can to address the problem. Until then, the garage sale goes on.


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