The Government has announced it will sell more than 60 vacant state homes in Northland as part of a new policy to help struggling first-home buyers.
Critics have slammed the sell-off plans, saying state homes are in desperate need. But a local emergency housing boss says many of the region's empty state houses are in areas even people on waiting lists don't want to live in.
On the day the Reserve Bank introduced restrictions making it harder for some to purchase a home, Housing Minister Nick Smith revealed that 400 unwanted state houses would be sold off in provincial centres and buyers would be gifted up to $20,000 for a deposit.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) data shows that as of June this year, there were 85 people in Northland on state home waiting lists - one of whom was classified as homeless.
Of the 2209 Northland properties managed by HNZ, 40 were vacant in June.
There were 3811 people waiting for housing nationwide - 357 were classified as homeless.
The Government will sell 63 state houses in Northland under the new FirstHome policy.
Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust manager Chrissie McLoughlin said there was local need for state housing, but many who needed accommodation didn't want to live in the areas it was available.
"I have heard that there are vacant houses available, and from what I hear they are in Otangarei." She said Raumanga was another location where people didn't want to go to.
"A lot of people do live there, but it's a difficult area from our perspective when we try to get re-housed. They just don't want to go there."
The houses were probably older stock that required extensive repairs to bring them back up to standard, Mrs McLoughlin said.
"Housing New Zealand does a good job of housing our people to the best of their ability but some people just don't want to go into the areas where there are houses available."
Next week, the first 41 HNZ properties will be offered to qualifying first-time buyers nationwide. New lending restrictions came into force last week which mean most people now need a deposit of 20 per cent to get mortgage approval.