"We need to get building."
That is the consensus of community housing services in the Bay of Plenty as a new report shows the region has the highest demand for public housing in the country.
• Serious crash turns fatal as person dies after Tauranga Eastern Link crash
• Tauranga has plenty on offer to keep boredom at bay over January
• Tauranga cricket fans gear up for final Black Caps and India ODI of the season
• New Year's Eve: Where to watch the fireworks in Tauranga
The Salvation Army's State of the Nation report compared the public housing register to the number of public tenancies and found the Bay of Plenty, together with the West Coast and Tasman area, had the biggest demand for public housing.
The report referenced a Ministry Housing and Urban Development report for the quarter ending September last year which showed there were 999 applicants on the housing register for 2721 public housing tenancies across the Bay of Plenty.
It was a 12.5 per cent increase in applicants since the same time the previous year.
Of those, 344 were in Tauranga, a 3.3 per cent increase on the same time the previous year.
In the Western Bay of Plenty, demand had slightly decreased by 4.4 per cent.
Further afield in the Rotorua District, the waitlist increased by 28.2 per cent to 391.
The Salvation Army's social policy analyst and report co-author, Ronji Tanielu, said the figures indicated the public housing stock was not enough to meet growing demand.
Letters: Tauranga Northern Link funding argument 'a disguise'
Black Caps v India: Mount driver takes pre-game glow to next level
He said challenges in this area could be addressed if community housing providers, such as Tauranga's Accessible Properties, were supported in providing affordable and suitable housing.
Te Tuinga Whānau executive director, Tommy Wilson, said the increased demand was "totally in sync" with what the organisation saw at the coalface.
"There's increased rents and more people coming to Tauranga in search of a new life."
He said it was important to celebrate victories, such as the story of the mother of seven who found a home after 17 months and hundreds of unsuccessful applications .
"Otherwise we drown in war stories."
Accessible Properties general manager, Vicki McLaren, said the balance between the need for public housing and the number of properties available was "concerning".
"The demand is incredibly high. We need to get building," she said.
She supported higher density housing with a range of options - from public housing to renting to rent-to-buy options - in areas such as Te Papa Peninsula.
Tauranga Charitable Housing Trust chairwoman Jo Gravit said the figures were history repeating itself.
"We have not kept up with the demand for affordable housing."
She said the biggest issue was the construction of rental properties, as she believed long-term renters could make up half the population in the future while the aging population would also push up demand for one-bedroom units.
"But there is no commercial return for developments [such as these]."
She commended the combined efforts of local and central governments to find solutions and said the trust was looking forward to building new houses this year.
A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development spokesman said 44 new community housing places had been delivered or were planned for the Bay of Plenty in 2019 and 2020.
Kāinga Ora area manager Sharlene Karena-Newman said it had 850 homes in Rotorua and Tauranga.
In Tauranga, design and consent planning was under way to demolish 12 old Housing New Zealand houses and build 38 new houses in a range of sizes, she said. Construction was likely to be completed in the second half of next year.
The Bay of Plenty Times contacted Tauranga City Council for comment but did not receive a response before deadline.