A new emergency housing property in Whangarei will prepare families to rent alone while also relieving some pressure during a busy year for a local housing provider.
Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing chairman Adrian Whale said the trust had yesterday blessed and opened a three-bedroom home in Morningside which it had acquired through Housing NZ's Community Housing Group. The house will be used as short-term, supported accommodation. The family living there would work with a social worker who would help them with budgeting and other skills required when renting.
"A lot of [families] don't have the experience of being a head tenant because there's a lot of sharing of homes here. We want this to be a stepping stone which will lead them into a stable home," said Mr Whale.
A couple with four kids and a baby on the way will be the first family in the home. Mr Whale said the family had been desperately trying to find a place to stay with no success. This year has been the busiest ever for the trust with up to 30 inquiries per month compared to 13 inquiries per month in 2013.
"Usually families need to stay six to eight weeks. This year it has been impossible. We've had families staying 10 to 12 weeks.
"Partly there is nothing in private rentals and they are at the bottom of the list. A lot don't have references and some have bad credit."
The trust already operates two properties in Whangarei: a seven-unit complex for families with children, and a four-bedroom house that could accommodate up to six men.
Mr Whale said about a third of the families inquiring about emergency housing had come from Auckland. He said a growing trend was the number of working families coming in.
"We're seeing a lot of families where at least one in the family is working but rent prices in Whangarei are so high and, when you have low wages like you do up here, families can't afford it," he said.
Because of the high demand the trust had to turn some families away.
"It's heartbreaking because it means we're the last resort. We certainly know of people sleeping in tents or caravans or cars as well," he said.