Methamphetamine is keeping people out of state homes, says Housing New Zealand.
Several vacant HNZ properties are empty because they have been contaminated with the drug, also known as P, the corporation says.
It is hitting back at criticism from Napier City councillor Maxine Boag, who said a lack of state houses had left vulnerable families homeless with many having to resort to motel units for a place to stay.
A Tu Tangata Maraenui spokeswoman and social housing advocate, Minnie Ratima, said there were more than 20 empty houses in and around Maraenui.
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She said the house her aunt had lived in before her death had been empty for months because it was contaminated by P.
Housing NZ owns a third of the houses in Maraenui but several of them were vacant because of methamphetamine, a corporation spokesman said.
"We have a zero tolerance approach to drug use and the abuse in our homes."
Contamination from the drug was also preventing vulnerable people on the Ministry of Social Development's social housing register from getting access to a home, he said.
Cleaning and remediation of the properties could take up to three months.
Housing NZ is the largest single landlord in Napier, with nearly 1500 homes in the area.
The corporation continually houses new families, the spokesman said, with 170 housed in the past 12 months.
"We have a strong commitment to Maraenui and are one of three partners to a memorandum of understanding with Napier City Council and Te Roopu a Iwi Trust.
"We want to make the area vibrant and healthy and part of this is looking at how we can increase the different types of housing so there is a better mix, including affordable home options."