Family of six stuck in cramped motel room plead for help amid worsening housing crisis

An Auckland mother says she is desperate for help after three months stuck in a cramped emergency housing motel room with four young children and another on the way.

Susan Mackay is a recovering drug addict. She's been clean for seven years, and has a partner who works full time as she looks after her family and works as a contractor part-time. 

Despite their hard work, Mackay and her family have been denied for every home they have applied for - both through WINZ and privately.

She says the situation is distressing to her and her family.

"I suffer claustrophobia so some days it really feels like the walls are closing in," she told The AM Show on Friday.

The young family shares the single room with one double bed and two singles which Mackay pushes together so her three sons can share. 

"They really hate it to be honest with you. There's no space so they sleep on each other most nights which means we get restless sleeps for everyone"

The 28-year-old says despite the discomfort she "couldn't be more grateful" to be somewhere warm.

"The best thing is it's warm...and it's a safe place to be."

But Mackay is desperate for more space for her family - and it's not easy.

"We just have to keep trying and keep applying, talking to social welfare when we do apply so they pass on a letter to the landlord so we hopefully get a house but in our experience so far that hasn't been the case," she said.

"We're still being denied even with that and the reassurance rent will come from our salaries."

Mackay's partner earns $65,000 a year as a warehouse manager and she tries to work eight hours a week as a contractor but it's still not enough.

"I hope someone is going to give us an opportunity with the reassurances of social welfare with the reassurance of my partner [working]," she said.

"He's a hard worker and I'm trying to find work - we are good people that are just trying to get by and this is our only option at the moment."

Mackay says the rejection has been constant over her three months in the motel, and in the last three weeks alone she's been rejected for more than 30 homes.

"It's very disheartening when that's all you get unfortunately or you get the 'please don't even view the property' which we have had when people hear our story." 

Mackay and her family are one example of more 14,500 New Zealanders who needed emergency housing in 2019. The housing crisis is an issue which National and Labour are both campaigning to end if elected in September, with different ideas of how the problem should be solved. 

In an interview with The AM Show on Friday National's foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Bridges said the Government's healthy homes standards which ensure rental properties are insulated and warm is part of the problem.

"[The housing crisis] has got a lot worse and the reason for that is naive policies around landlords which have pushed the costs of renting skyhigh and a fixation of KiwiBuild that just hasn't worked. We haven't seen the houses built that need to be," he said. 

But Labour Party Minister David Parker says National needs to take responsibility for its part in the crisis.

"[Bridges] should take responsibility for the fact that the last Government sold off more state houses than they built over the last nine years," said Parker.

"It is terrible that the crisis is this bad, that you can't cure it overnight. But it got that bad because it built up over the prior decade when the last Government sold more state houses than they built."

 Kāinga Ora has been contacted for comment.