More than a third of people on the waiting list for state housing in Tauranga are facing health or overcrowding issues.
And more than half are single parents or have a long-term health condition, injury or disability.
Poor health is the most common reason for people needing social housing in Tauranga, based on the waiting list for state houses last month.
Overcrowding was the next most common reason followed by a terminated tenancy, homelessness and personal safety.
The figures were provided by the Ministry of Social Development as part of a report which outlined a plan for 70 extra state houses to be bought in Tauranga and 20 in the Western Bay in the next two to three years. The figures also showed the most common benefits social housing applicants received.
Of the 139 applicants on the social housing register in Tauranga, the most common benefit was Sole Parent Support which 43 applicants received.
Thirty-four were receiving the Supported Living Payment, formerly the Invalid Benefit, and 26 received Jobseeker Support. Thirteen of the 139 applicants were not receiving any benefit.
The most common household composition of applicants was one parent with a child or children, followed by people living alone.
Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust social worker Erin Smith told the Bay of Plenty Times the numbers reflected what she was experiencing.
A solo mother with a number of children was the most common client situation the agency was seeing.
The families would stay with extended family or in their cars causing overcrowding and, as winter approached, health issues, she said.
The Ministry of Social Development needed to "take a good look" at the benefit levels provided to solo parents and beneficiaries with long-term health conditions, injuries or disabilities so they could afford to rent privately, she said.
Trust director Tommy Wilson said "right now" was the crucial time to find people housing, before winter hit.
"Finding people somewhere warm and dry to live over winter is paramount because otherwise we'll have lots of sick people."
Mr Wilson said sub-standard accommodation was the direct cause of most health issues trust staff saw so he was not surprised that health had topped the list of needs for housing.
Former Merivale Community Centre chief executive Graham Cameron said figures from the 2013 Census showed 40 per cent of families in Merivale were made up of a single parent, grandparent or guardian with children so he was not surprised that the Sole Parent Support was the most common benefit for applicants.
Health issues could be a major challenge for people finding a state house because the houses may not cater to the variety of needs a person with a long-term health condition, injury or disability may have.
He knew people in wheelchairs who met all the criteria for a state house but could not find any that worked with their disability.
Mr Cameron said a person's basic needs - housing, food, water, healthcare - needed to be covered before before they could contribute to a community and support themselves.
He knew a lot of people were staying in cars or garages as a short-term solution and expected the number of applicants for houses to rise as winter approached.