Families can flock to Hawke's Bay's social services with house affordability coming into question.

Kaine Wilson, director of Harcourts' Hawke's Bay branches, said a shortage of rentals in the area was driving rental prices up.

He said Hawke's Bay's improved market had resulted in investors selling their properties to first home buyers rather than other investors.

"Therefore [the house] has been taken out of the rental market, which has lessened the amount of rentals and again driven prices up."


Napier Family Centre offers free budget and family support services to the community and had seen a significant rise in clients over the past year.

The charity's budgeting service had more than 1000 new clients in the past 12 months.
"Which is the most we've experienced in quite some time," the centre's chief executive Kath Curran said.

She said this rise reflected the needs of the community and demonstrated that the "affordability of housing is actually really hurting families".

"Our family services manager has noted an increasing number of families living in inappropriate accommodation, such as too small, and are unable to move due to lack of funds."

Kristal Leach, co-ordinator for the Hastings Budget Advisory Service, said it had also seen a rise in clientele, at about 10 per cent in the last year.

Ms Leach had not noticed a particular rise in rental prices yet, but expected it within the next six to 12 months.

"It is something we have been preparing for," she said.

Ms Leach said that increased rental prices can result in multiple families in one house and overcrowding.

"If one family member gets unwell then obviously that's easier to spread with the close contact."

Ms Curran noted similar situations, and also said that children may not go to school if they are sick.

"It's a cycle," she said.

Driving rental prices and stagnant incomes could also result in families reducing other crucial allowances.

"Food money has always been that feeling of discretionary," said Ms Curran.

"However, doing that for too long has a real impact on people's health and wellbeing".

Ms Leach described this action as a "rob Peter to pay Paul type of situation".

Struggling families can contact either service for budget advice and support.

¦ Hastings Budget Advisory Service 873 0530
¦ Napier Family Centre 06 843 7280