Auckland housing crisis drives homeless problem

Social service agencies say the housing crisis is the worst it's ever been and they're struggling to keep up with demand.

An increasing number of people are resorting to sleeping in cars, caravans and even clothing bins as rents skyrocket in Auckland.

It's estimated 34,000 New Zealanders are in survival mode.

"I think we are at crisis point," says Vision West chief executive Lisa Woolley. "We're seeing more and more people come here in absolute desperate need."

Average weekly rent in Auckland has jumped 29 percent in less than a decade. The worry is that landlords will increase rent to keep up with market values.

Ms Woolley says most families she sees spend 70 percent of their incomes on rent. When they fall behind, there aren't enough state houses to go around.

"The only place they've got to go is the caravan park, so caravan parks have become west Auckland's emergency housing solution," says Ms Woolley.

The waiting list for state houses has ballooned. In 2012 more than 4000 people were on it. This year there are nearly 5600. More than half are in Auckland.

"It's probably the worst we've seen in terms of the demand for resources," says Family Works manager Liz Thomas.

"It seems like in New Zealand we don't actually take this issue seriously," says Salvation Army social services director Campbell Roberts. "In 25 years we've had more roads, better telecommunications and all sorts of things, but somehow we're not taking the serious fact that housing in New Zealand is in a desperate situation and needs to change."

Ms Wolley wants the Government to boost the number of state houses.

She also wants social service agencies given greater financial support as they struggle to care for record numbers of families.

3 News

source: newshub archive