A Hastings woman who has been unable to find a proper "home" to live in with her two teenage children is proposing a peaceful rally in Hastings to voice concerns about inadequate housing options.
After hearing horror stories of homelessness and taking into account her own experiences, Louise Hutchinson started a Facebook page to gauge support for the issue.
"I created it on Sunday and within 24 hours I had about 130 'likes'. Within a couple of days people were really getting behind it and that's what's spurred me on," she said.
It was a forum where people could share their stories and difficult situations, something which further reiterated a gap in quality housing.
"The process of going through Housing New Zealand and also private renting is hard. You pay high rents then move in to find it's freezing cold with no insulation.
"I am a student on my own. It's really expensive renting and some people can only get certain places because you become desperate. You're paying so much rent you can't even buy proper food for your kids."
While she had tried boarding, the situation felt unsafe. Filing an application for social housing was a last resort.
"When I first contacted Housing NZ, I had no idea this is what it would be like," she said.
It had been 15 weeks of waiting, despite being named a "priority A client," and she was still not sure when a house would be available.
A person's place on the waitlist was based on assessed level of housing need - priority A was considered "at risk" and included households with a severe and persistent housing need that had to be addressed immediately. Priority B had a "serious housing need".
Both groups had to be unable to access and/or sustain adequate and affordable alternative housing.
"Social housing is provided for people who are most in need of housing for as long as they need it," general manager housing assessment, Ministry of Social Development Marama Edwards said.
MSD's role in managing the social housing waitlist was to assess eligibility and to keep in regular contact with applicants to check their circumstances hadn't changed, and they were still in need.
"We refer people on the waitlist to Housing New Zealand and community housing providers who then match people on the waitlist and place them into an available house that suits their needs."
As the waitlist was constantly changing, a priority rating did not provide a priority "place" on the waitlist.
Someone with a higher priority might come in at any time, and people constantly shifted on and off the list. Those assessed as having the greater need for housing would be prioritised higher, but there was no queue for social housing.
Ms Hutchinson was in the middle of a two-year course in mental health and addiction services at EIT, and before that had been working part-time since leaving her job as a Corrections officer in 2009.
"My passion is to make change. I loved the job in Corrections but the hours weren't family friendly," she said. "Working in Corrections I realised the majority of prisoners are released into nothing with no support - where do they go?"
With backing from Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe, she called for concerned residents to meet at the town clock on Wednesday at 5pm for the protest.
"I just started talking to [the Hastings District] Council because I want this to be a positive thing, not an 'anti' march. I want people to really realise the extent of bad housing. I hope to see the community educated on how difficult it is."
It was important to publicise the reality of what many people were living through and how hard it could be for them to fulfil basic needs.
"Motels are being turned into apartment blocks, people are living in caravans, the holiday parks are full of them. That's just what I know about. Other people have their stories to tell."
The rally would be held at twilight to accommodate workers, and show it was not just beneficiaries struggling to put a roof over their heads.
The Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand was unable to comment on the story by the time Hawke's Bay Today went to print last night.
Find the Facebook page by searching: End Homelessness in Hastings, Napier and throughout Ikaroa Rawiti
Waitlist information is available at housing.msd.govt.nz/information-for-housing-providers/waitlist/index.html