Housing NZ cuts lead to camping protest

A group of Lower Hutt residents have spent the weekend sleeping in tents to protest what they're calling a housing crisis in their backyard.

They're concerned authorities haven't replaced dozens of Housing New Zealand homes they've removed.

For the past five months Mal Monika has been crashing in the lounge of his cousin's place while he looks for an affordable home to rent. The two-bedroom home at Naenae in Lower Hutt is stuffed full, with seven people living there.

"It's like sardines... you're walking on top of each other," he said.

Mr Monika said he lost his Housing NZ home while being held on remand for seven months.

"I got out and I fell through the cracks," he said.

He asked Housing NZ for help but expects his life will remain on hold for some time because of the waiting list.

Naenae Reverend Martin Robinson says men fresh out of prison are among the rising number of people struggling to find homes in Wellington.

"We've got people living under bridges or in cars or in garages, and yet we have this vacant land... 17,000 square metres throughout this section of the Hutt Valley, no obvious plans underway," he said.

Over the weekend his church, St David's, camped out on land where state housing once sat.

Four years ago up to 40 state houses in the Hutt Valley were removed and they haven't been replaced.

People in the region said the housing situation in the Hutt Valley, and especially in Naenae, had reached crisis point.

Housing NZ admits demand has increased and said discussions were underway about how land across Hutt Valley would be developed.

But it couldn't say when construction would begin or how many homes would be built - little comfort for those who just want somewhere to live.