Emergency housing has been given a huge boost to cope with a looming housing crisis - and it's not before time.

While homeowners in many centres have enjoyed watching their property values skyrocket in recent years, first-home buyers have been facing an uphill battle getting on to the property ladder.

Struggling families have also been affected by the flow-on effect of rising rents. Last month it was revealed rental prices were up 17.6 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Social agencies say they have been dealing with an increase in families seeking assistance after being priced out of the market.


Far from enjoying the benefits of the region's strong economy, many may be worse off, they say. It is not a new issue. Support groups have been raising concerns about the trend for some time.

One Bay of Plenty community centre manager, Tauha Te Kani, says homelessness is becoming the number one social issue he deals with.

He says the lack of affordable housing is contributing to overcrowding and he has visited homes that have a bed set up in every room bar the toilet, bathroom and laundry.

Such cases highlight the fact that some families have been falling between the gaps.

This week's announcement will hopefully mean more families will find the support they need to get back on their feet.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says 60 emergency housing places could be made available in the Bay of Plenty as part of the $41.1 million national funding package.

The money will also be used to provide 350 to 360 spaces in Auckland, about 100 in Canterbury and about 20 for each of the smaller centres. Individuals or families will be able to stay for a maximum of three months, meaning 240 Bay people or families will be helped each year.

The initiative will hopefully make a world of difference to those falling on hard times.