They're the organisation that's aiming to go out of business.

But Whangarei's Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust is busier than ever, with their latest heart-breaking revelation being that they are turning away two families a day.

Next Saturday the trust will mark 10 years of service with a fundraising "Hope for the Homeless" sleep out on the Canopy Bridge.

The evening would include guest speakers, singing, a simple supper and "trying to sleep" - either in cars or on the bridge.


Trust chairman Adrian Whale has been with the organisation for eight years and said when he arrived, the norm was for the trust's resources to be able to cope with the number of families needing their "landlord of last resort" service.

Now, turning families away was a daily reality with the 137-family wait list speaking for itself.

"People are much more on the edge and desperate now," Mr Whale said.

The length of stay with the trust had increased from six to eight weeks to up to six months, with Housing New Zealand homes more difficult to come by and private rentals out of reach for many.

Once upon a time, the trust could get 80 per cent of its clients into an HNZ house in six weeks. Now, just 10 per cent.

"They [HNZ] have acknowledged they're short 30 to 40 houses in town (Whangarei) and we haven't seen any action in terms of them building more properties. We can house eight families and six individuals and it's nowhere near enough."

Mr Whale said in terms of private rentals, people needed to see houses as "homes, rather than investments".

Struggling families from Auckland coming north added to the pressure, he said.

"It's not just straight homelessness, it's overcrowding, so people sleeping in the back shed, that kind of stuff. A lot of young people are sleeping the lounge because family is in the bedrooms and that has a flow on effect to their schooling and health."


Mr Whale said the trust's aim was to "go out of business, instead of being an expanding industry".

The trust had been in talks with HNZ for more than a year around getting another property. Mr Whale expected to get this over the line by October.

They currently managed a seven unit family facility, a 4 bedroom house for 6 single men, and a 3-bedroom house which could house a family longer-term.

Mr Whale said the trust's focus had also shifted to more "wrap around" services in the last two years, as families presented in more complex situations.

"We've changed from being a roof over someone's head, to other services," he said.

"The people coming through are in trauma even if they don't recognise it. It's becomes intensive care work."

Hope for Homelessness sleepout registrations are at People were encouraged to pre-register and get friends and family to sponsor them if they were able.