An emergency transitional house for a group of single women is offering hope for Northland's homeless, despite the number on the State housing list creeping towards 1000.
A seven-bedroom emergency accommodation facility was opened yesterday in Raumanga, Whangārei, where the Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Charitable Trust will, from next week, house six single women without children.
The Ministry of Social Development has referred them to the Trust.
Te Parawhau kaumatua Fred Tito was on hand to bless the leased property, secured with assistance from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
Trust manager Ange Tepania said while the emergency accommodation would provide interim relief for the six women, the long-term solution was for more houses and at affordable rates.
"We knew there was a gap for single women in Whangārei who have been staying with family and friends, or wherever else they can. They and other rough sleepers were put in motels during the lockdown.
"It's difficult for single people because they are already on a minimum wage and they just can't afford housing, on top of other expenses," she said.
The most up to date statistics from the Ministry of Social Development show there were 852 people on the register at the end of September last year compared with 716 at the end of June — an increase of nearly 19 per cent.
It's not clear how many on the list are individuals or families.
Whangarei had the highest number of people needing housing at 502, followed by 290 in the Far North district, and 60 in Kaipara.
Nearly 93 per cent or 790 of the 852 were identified as Priority A, those considered at-risk and included people with a severe and persistent housing need that must be addressed immediately.
The rest fell into the Priority B which were for people with a serious housing need, including those with a significant and persistent need.
The stats also show 126 households that were put in the transfer register which includes those already in social housing who need to be re-housed for reasons such as too few or too many bedrooms, or for health reasons.
Tepania said whanau returning to Northland from Auckland in particular due to the high cost of living and out-of-town investors buying up properties in Whangārei put added pressure on securing emergency housing.
She said having a block of units with a manager living on site was a model that worked for the trust.
"We have both whanau and individuals staying with us for longer because it's so difficult to find temporary accommodation," Tepania said.
The trust has three other family sites and a men's accommodation in Whangārei.
Kāinga Ora has plans to build an extra 350 state homes in Northland, 220 of which will be in Whangarei, over the next few years.
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, there are 2178 state houses in Northland.
A six-bedroom Fairburn St home was due for completion before the end of last year. Two other four-bedroom Tennyson St homes were due to be completed by the end of this month. A further 37 homes will be built on Puriri Park Rd in Maunu.
Anyone in need of housing assistance should visit the Work and Income site or call 0800 559 009 for information and support.