Hundreds of Tauranga families remain trapped on waiting lists for social housing as the cost of buying new properties makes expansion unviable for providers.
Public housing provider Accessible Properties currently owns most of Tauranga's social housing, 1150 homes, with Housing New Zealand and other social agencies also owning a small number.
However, rising property prices were hindering these agencies' ability to expand, leaving many people stuck on the waiting list for a number of years.
Janine Cork said she has been on the waiting list for social housing for well over a year. She is living in emergency housing in central Tauranga.
"We have been in and out of quite a few emergency homes, there was one where there were four families in one house - a family per bedroom."
Cork was asked to leave her previous rental when the owners decided to move back in and has been struggling to find stable housing ever since.
"It's really disheartening - you go to view rentals in Tauranga and see a couple with a flash car looking around and know the landlord isn't going to go for the single mum on the benefit."
Cork said being in and out of emergency housing has hit her 13-year-old son hard, enough so that she has decided to homeschool him this year.
"He just wants his own home."
Vicki McLaren, general manager of Accessible Properties, said buying into the Tauranga market was no longer viable, meaning social housing expansion across a number of agencies has been affected.
"Ideally, we want a good mix of affordable renting, social housing and rent-to-buy properties, but this is just not realistic with the current state of the market."
Accessible Properties had 280 families in Tauranga on a waitlist for social housing in November.
The news comes only days after the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability study found Tauranga to be the eighth most unaffordable city in the world to buy a home.
The national average of social housing in a community is 4.1 per cent, while Tauranga's proportion is only 2.5 per cent.
McLaren said Tauranga needed to build upwards of 1700 new homes to catch up to the national average.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development said the significant pressure on the Tauranga housing market meant there was more demand for public housing than there was supply.
The number of people on the housing register waiting for housing was continuing to grow as a result.
Simone Cuers from The People's Project Tauranga said none of the organisation's clients who wanted to live in Tauranga had been offered social housing due to the lack of supply.
Yet with social agencies struggling to buy up land and property for more, the city was likely to fall back even further, she said.
Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust's emergency homes are currently at full capacity with 50 families temporarily living in 30 houses across Tauranga.
Executive director Tommy Wilson said a flow-on effect was being created as unaffordable rents pushed more people into emergency housing and homelessness, only making the problem bigger.
Michael Sharp from the Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust said there needed to be an acceptance within the government that escalating house prices were bringing significant social costs to the community that only major policy initiatives could address.
National leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said his party would be putting a draft bill in sometime this year to reform the Resource Management Act and hopefully free up land for housing expansion.
The Government had committed to 6400 more public houses in the next four years, delivered by Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers, however only 274 were delegated to the Bay Of Plenty region.
Labour List MP Jan Tinetti said she would continue to advocate for more houses.
Tinetti said the problem was a "slow-moving beast" and the key was to work closely with social agencies and streamline infrastructure planning to get things going sooner rather than later.
Current state of Tauranga's social housing
Accessible properties currently own 1150 social houses in the area, Housing New Zealand own 193 and other social agencies own a small number.
The national average of social housing per community is 4.1 per cent, with Tauranga's percentage only sitting at 2.5 per cent.
The Government is set to built 6400 public houses around the country over the next four years, with 274 delegated to the BOP region.