Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett is being challenged to confirm that some homeless families may be eligible for extended state-supported motel accommodation.

The challenge has been issued by Hastings-based Opposition Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri after a meeting in Hastings on Thursday at which the minister said extended funding could be available if requested.

Whaitiri said previous indications had been that the Ministry of Social Development would provide support only up to seven days.

She said Thursday's message was "in stark contrast to what people out there are being told".


People in motels temporarily were having to get out to accommodate bookings, and she knew families who were leaving motels after seven days because they had been told MSD would no longer cover the costs, she said.

"In the last few weeks, here in Hawke's Bay my office has been working with an increasing number of people in desperate situations, including overcrowded conditions and whanau living in garages and motels," Whaitiri said.

"When I raised this with the minister at the hui, she acknowledged that not only will MSD pay for the first seven days in the motel, but indefinitely if an extension is requested."

"Paula Bennett needs to clarify whether her comments were a gaffe, or if this is the latest example of National Government policy made on the hoof in response to mounting pressure about the housing crisis it has created."

Figures show Hawke's Bay has lost 377 state houses since 2011.

Whaitiri said there was little in the way of replacement, with only seven homes built in Napier's Maraenui area - from where well over 100 state housing units had disappeared - and there was now "a massive gap between supply and demand".

The population of the Maraenui area at the 2013 Census was 3096, a 12.5 per cent decline from the 2006 Census population of 3537.