Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Queue for social housing grows again, now at highest level since mid-2014

Figures released by new Social Housing Minister Amy Adams today show the number of people on the list jumped in the last three months of 2016. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Figures released by new Social Housing Minister Amy Adams today show the number of people on the list jumped in the last three months of 2016. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The official waiting list for social housing has risen again to nearly 4800 households, nearly half of whom are in Auckland.

The waiting list is now at its highest level since it was transferred to Work and Income in mid-2014.

Figures released by new Social Housing Minister Amy Adams today show the number of people on the list jumped by 169 in the last three months of 2016 to 4771 - an increase of 3.7 per cent. Over the last year, the list grew by 37.3 per cent.

The increase was driven mostly by demand in Auckland, where the list grew by 153 people to 2060. The biggest increases were in South Auckland suburbs such as Mangere, Otara and Manurewa.

The waiting list also grew in Hamilton, but fell in other main centres such as Christchurch and Wellington.

Adams said the number of people waiting for social housing tended to fluctuate.

"Nevertheless it's clear that the number of people seeking our help has risen," she said.

"As a nation we are aware that the demand for housing is putting pressure on families, particularly in Auckland.

"We've been actively encouraging people to get in touch with Work and Income when they need help and I'm pleased to see that message getting through."

Adams said there was a gap between the existing pool of social housing and the type of houses applicants were seeking. The data showed a rise in people seeking one and two-bedroom properties.

She said the rising demand for social housing underscored the Government's social housing reforms - in which thousands of homes were being sold to community housing providers - and its investment in emergency housing.

Adams' predecessor Paula Bennett announced $300 million in funding for emergency housing in November, which would allow for an additional 1400 temporary housing places at any one time, 600 of them in Auckland.

The National-led Government began funding emergency housing for the first time in late 2015 following a review of the sector.

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the new figures were "stark evidence" of National's "inept handling of the social housing crisis". He urged the Government to build more state houses so people were not required to stay in emergency accommodation until social housing was available.

The figures released today by Adams also showed that another 1339 social housing tenants were seeking a transfer to another property. That is an increase of 171 households over the last quarter. Over the same period, 1748 households were moved into social housing.

The number of state houses has fallen from a peak of 69,717 in June 2011 to 64,240 in September 2016, partly because of the transfer of 2800 houses to the Tamaki Regeneration Company last year.

- NZ Herald

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