More than 8700 NZ families waiting for state housing

More than half the households waiting for state housing are in Auckland.
More than half the households waiting for state housing are in Auckland. Photo credit: Getty

More than 8700 Kiwi households are currently waiting for a state house, an increase of 56 percent in a year.

The Housing Quarterly Report for June 2018 was released by the Ministry of Social Development on Thursday, and it reveals the public housing waitlist has swelled exponentially over the past year.

There are now 8704 eligible households in need of housing, a 9 percent increase from 7890 households since the March report.

That's a huge 56 percent increase since the same time in 2017, and Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford expects that number to get even bigger.

"We expected the waiting list to grow as more of the hidden homeless - families living in overcrowded homes, people couch surfing and others living in substandard homes and unsustainable conditions - come forward for help."

More than half of the households on the waitlist are in Auckland. Twenty percent listed themselves as homeless, and 30 percent said their current housing was "inadequate or unsuitable".

It took an average of 136.7 days for successful applicants to be moved into housing after registering, although this number was influenced by several very long waits - the median time to be housed was far lower, at 77 days.

There was a significant increase in Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants, with 36 percent more households being granted emergency accommodation than the previous quarter. A total of 2879 people made use of the emergency grant (up from 2123 the previous quarter), which covers the cost of short stays in motels.

Mr Twyford says the Government is doing everything it can to address the crisis, with the Ministry of Social Development investing $646.6m on housing support in the June 2018 quarter - $75m more than in the previous quarter.

An additional 229 "transitional housing places" have been made available since March, and there are now 2341 housing places either tenanted or available for tenanting.  

The Minister says Labour's Housing First programme has helped Kiwi families this winter, with the Government having provided more than 1000 of a promised 1500 housing places as of June.