Exclusive: Longest stay in emergency housing stretches over three years, with more than 1000 staying over a year

Newshub can reveal the longest stay in emergency housing has now stretched over three years.

It's supposed to be a temporary solution, but new figures show more than 1000 people have now stayed in motels longer than a year.

It comes as the Human Rights Commissioner prepares to release his findings of a massive housing inquiry - and he has labelled our emergency housing system a "human rights crisis".

Down one stretch of road in Rotorua, it's all temporary housing motels. A last resort, an emergency that's becoming permanent.

"The motels are shelter, they're definitely not a home," Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said.

Hunt is undertaking a housing inquiry. He's asked people to write in with their stories from emergency housing.

"It's a serious crisis, a housing crisis, a human rights crisis," he said.

The stories were shared anonymously.

"Two years they were in emergency accommodation. There was always drama, violence, drug dealings or something happening at the hotels," one said.

"The owners didn't care, they cared about the money."

Another said her child and grandchild were living in emergency housing for coming up three years.

"It had holes in the walls, vomit and food on the walls, mouldy curtains which affected the grandchild's asthma."

"It's very distressing what we're finding," Hunt said.

The years-long stays sound shocking but new figures provided exclusively to Newshub show it's becoming far too common.

Back in 2018 just three people had been in emergency housing for more than a year. In 2020 that skyrocketed to 138. Now 1200 have.

"I think what that speaks to is the scale of the problem that we have to fix is that we simply do not have enough places for people to go to," Housing Minister Megan Woods said.

"It's not good enough that this many people are living years in what is temporary accommodation," ACT housing spokesperson Brooke van Velden said.

Five years ago the longest stay in emergency housing was 53 weeks - just over one year. It's steadily increased since then and is now 174 - that's more than three years.

"There are individual cases of individuals that have high and complex needs. No it's not good enough, we need solutions other than motels and emergency housing," Woods said.

"We have to do better as a society," added van Velden.

"It's a human rights problem and it is not a problem that is subject to remedy over time. It really is pressing, immediate," Hunt said.

The Prime Minister's answer to emergency housing criticism has thus far been that she'd rather see people in motels than cars.

No one wants to see people living in cars but this is not a sustainable solution either. Three years in a motel - that's a whole term of Government.

It is impossible to solve the entire housing crisis overnight but the emergency housing crisis now requires an emergency fix.