Organisations tasked with keeping a roof over the heads of Hawke's Bay's most vulnerable people are feeling the strain as winter approaches.

The homelessness conundrum in the region now needs a unified response from the community, not just money from the Government, politicians say.

Currently 158 motel rooms spread across 12 motels in Hawke's Bay are being used for transitional housing.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development chief executive Andrew Crisp said at a recent IwiBuild Summit at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga that motel housing would be sticking around for a while.


"The reality is motels are going to stay for quite some time because the problem is so bad."

He said that motels were a sort of necessary evil to help keep people in accommodation and off of the streets.

"The solutions we are looking for at this moment is how do we move people off of the streets and how do we keep them out of motel accommodation."

Crisp said the government had to change its thinking of how it dealt with the housing crisis.

"I think the way we used to work of looking at it as a national issue and not looking at it from the grassroots and look at the regions affected is where we are trying to move more towards."

As of the end of December 2018 there were 661 applicants on the Housing register in Hawke's Bay region. Of those, 41 per cent listed the primary reason for applying for support as homelessness.

That is an increase on the September 2018 report where 622 applicants were on the Housing register in Hawke's Bay and 37 per cent listed their reason as homelessness.

Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said in Napier and Hastings there are currently 440 children living in motels.


"We have got the highest percentage increase in whanau who have registered for public housing in New Zealand in the last 12 months. Six-hundred-and-sixty-one whanau are waiting on the public housing register. Eight-hundred-and-eighty people in our community are living in hotels. Last night 440 kids are calling a motel room home."

Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Labour MP Meka Whaitiri said Hawke's Bay was one of the many regions in desperate need of housing.

"It is clear that the Hawke's Bay needs more public housing and this Government is doing everything we can to urgently increase supply."

But she is also asking the public to help pitch in and help provide especially over the winter period.

"I encourage anyone who knows of possible accommodation options, to contact the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development urgently," Whaitiri said.

"That way, as a community, we can all ensure we house as many of our people as possible before winter hits.

"Ending homelessness will take a unified response."

Ministry of Social Development Regional Commissioner Annie Aranui said large events in Hawke's Bay, where a housing shortage remains, are also putting added pressure on their services.

Around 20 families living in motels under emergency housing were forced to move out due to this year's Art Deco festival.

"With the shortage of housing in Hawke's Bay, events such as Art Deco do put our emergency housing under pressure."

She said that all those affected were able to be reaccommodated before having to move out.

"We plan well in advance for regional events like this that result in motels getting booked out ahead of time by holidaymakers," Aranui said.

"For Art Deco, we made sure all of the families found alternative accommodation, for the short time the event was on, through temporary arrangements such as staying with whānau."

They did manage to get help from other local services who helped accommodate the overflow and those who couldn't live with family.

"A local marae took in three of the families under an agreement we have with the marae for help with emergency housing when there's pressure on motels," Aranui said.

"We offer financial support to our emergency housing clients at times like this to help with any costs incurred with moving."