A local emergency housing co-ordinator is appealing for Housing NZ (HNZ) to relax its criteria so vacant state homes can be filled by those who need them most - single men and large families.
Figures released under the Official Information Act show there were 90 vacant HNZ properties in Whangarei as of August 31 - with 50 high priority individuals and families on waiting lists.
Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Charity Trust housing co-ordinator Chrissy McLoughlin said there was a massive shortage of state housing in Northland.
"We have waiting lists at the moment because our accommodation is full.
"Although people say there are vacant houses in OT [Otangarei] a lot of families don't want to go there.
"The shortages that we see from my perspective are for the single people and also for the larger families.
"Where they have these vacant houses, they don't fit - they won't let a single person move into a three-bedder and they won't let a family that's got five or six kids move in - there's where your problem lies."
Ms McLoughlin said many single men the trust dealt with could not find accommodation.
"Either HNZ hasn't got it, or they can't afford the rent - they just haven't got the money."
Over 3000 HNZ properties were vacant nationwide as of August 31 - with 2430 high priority individuals and families on waiting lists.
Critics say it is disgraceful the nation has thousands of vacant state houses while people are forced to live in cars, overcrowded houses and on the streets.
HNZ acting government relations manager Sharon Girvan said "like any landlord", the corporation aimed to keep the number of unoccupied properties to a minimum.
Just 1.99 per cent of lettable HNZ properties were vacant, but the corporation's total vacancy rate rose to 4.4 per cent when fire-damaged properties, properties earmarked for sale and those undergoing renovations were included.
HNZ stock report
In Whangarei, as of August 31:
2 properties vacant due to fire damage.
54 vacant, lettable properties.
34 vacant properties pending sale.
Total: 90 vacant state homes.
50 priority A and B applicants on HNZ waiting list.