Jacinda Ardern dodges questions on whether housing crisis is a human rights crisis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has avoided questions on whether the housing crisis is a human rights crisis.

It comes after the Human Rights Commission announced it will launch a national inquiry into housing after what it says has been a failure by successive Governments.

The commission said it will use section 5(2) of the Human Rights Act as a guideline for its investigation - which it will announce details for later this year.

When asked on Monday if she believed the housing crisis is a human rights crisis, Ardern dodged the question.

"I believe we have a housing crisis and everything we've done as a Government has been an acknowledgement that we need to act and we need to do what we can," she said.

"Of course [we need to] encourage as much activity and support as much activity in the private development sector as we can because we believe everyone deserves a warm, dry, affordable home."

When pressed further if she saw it as a human rights crisis, she said it can be called both a housing crisis or a human rights crisis - regardless, "it needs to be dealt with".

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says everyone has the right to a decent home, but successive governments have promised and failed to make this a reality.

"Successive governments for the last 50 years have not delivered on this human right to a decent home here in New Zealand," he says.

Buyers are still struggling to find a home to live in. Realestate.co.nz began collecting statistics in 2007, and July's figures show a record average national price of $870,000 and record-low stock.

"What we are seeing now is an increase in resources to look to supply and that's what we need to see. We need to see investors but also Kiwis building new properties to release that supply," spokesperson Vanessa Williams says.

"At the moment, we have got a 14-year record low in total stock which tells me there's not enough houses for Kiwis."

Kiwi Marina Bristol and her children have been living in emergency accommodation for two-and-a-half years and are struggling to find somewhere to live.

"You just don't feel yourself any more emotionally, because you're just trying to stay strong for your kids, pretend that it's okay to be in a motel for that long," she says.

She has three of her children living with her currently, but she's had up to five in a one-bedroom unit in the Auckland suburb of Māngere.

"We like being close together but I believe it's taken a toll health-wise."

Bristol has recently been offered a place but tests showed traces of meth - and her 11-year-old son has asthma.

"I don't want a house with meth but I was told you'll be lucky to get a home in Auckland with no meth in it."