A single mother says she is being squeezed out of Tauranga's rental market because she has seven children, and emergency housing advocate says she is just one of many being discriminated against by selective landlords.
Donna Love has seven children. She moved from Levin to Tauranga on October 1 but has not been able to find anywhere to live for her family.
"I've got good references. I've just got my full bond paid back. I've no bad credit history, there's nothing that should be a problem. They just say I don't fit the criteria."
The 34-year-old said people were dismissing her straight away because of the number of children she has.
Love's children are aged 13, 12, 10, 8, 4, 3 and eight months.
"They turn me down before there's even a viewing. I know there's meant to be a housing crisis but is there really a housing crisis or are people just being picky?"
In Levin, Love was given a 90-day notice to move out so she asked for help from the Ministry of Social Development, which put her on Tauranga's housing register with a high priority rating.
"I came here because my mum lives here and just needed support. I was allowed to stay over [with her] for a couple of weeks but because she's also renting, we needed to move on because I don't want to get her in trouble," Love said.
Still unable to find somewhere to live, Love and her children moved into a tent in her mum's backyard for a couple of nights.
"I tried to make it fun by saying it was camping."
After "a couple of nights" Love called the ministry again, saying she was desperate. Love resigned herself to having her family sleep in the car that night but after approaching Te Tuinga Whanau, the social agency with the ministry found a transitional home for her and the children that day. She said she was grateful but saddened that people would not give her a chance.
"I can understand how you get some parents who don't watch what their kids do and there are rough kids out there and for some landlords, their homes are their investments, I get that, but not all of us are like that," she said.
Love split from the children's father about a year ago but they remain friends and his child support covers most of their needs, she said.
The rest is the result of a single parent benefit, winter energy benefit and "good budgeting", she said.
"I know people say 'don't have so many kids' and 'where's the dad' and all of that but I'm not going to feel guilty for having children. I love my kids. I came from a big family and anyone who knows my kids knows they are good kids."
Te Tuinga Whanau's Tommy Wilson said more than 50 per cent of his clientele were solo parents and their struggle to find a rental was "becoming more common".
Wilson said many solo mums came for help having left abusive relationships and were trying to do right by their children but the feedback was often "they shouldn't have that many kids".
"Tauranga needs to understand that if we don't deal with the mums with seven kids and leave it to natural justice; we could end up ghettoising parts of Tauranga. At the moment we've got the opportunity to negate homelessness but we can't just expect organisations like us and the Government to do it. It takes the community to do it.
"Her seven kids are in school or pre-school, they are healthy and happy and warm. That's a huge plus for the community of Tauranga."
Tauranga Rentals' Dan Lusby said he also noticed a gradual increase in solo parents struggling to find rentals but the city still did not have enough housing.
Many landlords had large pools of interested renters to choose from and some often preferred working couples with no children, he said.
However, while prejudices were "definitely out there", some rejections were practical.
"Unfortunately, even we don't even have a house big enough for seven children. We have a five bedroom house … but that's not available right now."
Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Te Rehia Papesch said it was working with Te Tuinga Whanau to find a long-term home for Love and her children.
"No one should have to live in insecure housing such as a tent or a car."