Salvation Army prepares for a busy winter

Salvation Army prepares for a busy winter

The Salvation Army has just launched a winter appeal as it prepares for one of its busiest times of the year.

Rising housing costs are pushing more people into poverty and putting strain on social services, and Salvation Army Social Services Secretary Major Pam Waugh says the organisation will help at least 55,000 people during this winter.

Major Waugh says a growing number of people seeking their help have jobs but are still struggling to pay their bills.

"About 12 percent nationally of our clients who need welfare support are people with a wage. Their wages are just not making headway, they're not making money meet each week, so they're getting into difficulty now too," she says.

"Come winter they have higher costs for heating such as power, [they use] a bit more transport, housing costs are exorbitant, and that's all impacting on their ability to stay ahead of stuff."

Major Waugh says in some homes heating is no longer considered a priority by many parents, which is causing cold-related illnesses.

She says rising housing costs are at the core of the difficulties they are seeing.

"We're finding that people are stuck in that trap for a bit longer than normal, so they're coming to us and we find that there's lots more entrenched debt, therefore it's taking longer to sort out."

The Salvation Army says close to 42,000 New Zealanders will be homeless this winter and it will provide bed nights to 30,600 people. But Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett's office disputes that figure and puts the number of homeless at 4000. 

Newshub.