The 180 extra state houses to be made available in Northland will be a mixture of new builds and purchased ones with the majority to be in Whangārei.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford last week announced the Public Housing Plan that will see 6400 new homes built nationwide over the next four years, including 180 in Northland.

Social housing advocates in Northland said the plan was a good start and hoped more public houses were made available in the future.

Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive for housing, Scott Gallacher, said 105 would be in Whangārei, 65 in the Far North District and 10 in Kaitaia.


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"Housing New Zealand will be building or purchasing 110 of the new homes. MSD will be working with community housing providers in the Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei districts to deliver the remaining 70 public housing places.

"Delivering these new public housing places is already under way. HNZ is building and acquiring developments across the Northland region, and MSD is actively engaging with a number of community housing providers who are exploring development options."

Gallacher said the Public Housing Plan was a start and there was more to be done to meet demand for public housing.

Over the next four years, MSD would work with Housing New Zealand, community housing providers, councils and developers to exceed their targets to deliver as many more housing places as they could, he said.

At the end of June this year, MSD was paying $298,908 a week in emergency housing special needs grants to keep people in motels around Northland.

That was an increase from the $188,639 the ministry paid at the end of March.

There were 365 applicants on the social housing register, up from 328 in March.


In addition, MSD's weekly spend on accommodation supplements for 14,960 applicants at the end of June was $1,082,252— an increase of $9550 from the previous quarter.

The money was used to help people who were not in public housing with their rent, board or the cost of owning a house.

A further weekly payment of $170,513 as at the end of June went towards temporary additional support to cover essential living costs.

Whangārei social advocate Carol Peters said the Public Housing Plan was a step in the right direction and was to be applauded.

"The housing stock up here has been depleted in the last nine to 10 years so we're making up for that problem by building more public housing and we'd encourage more to be built.

"Our population is going up and we're also seeing more multi-family households. That's very much a norm these days so you can actually have 18 people in a house which is a health risk," Peters said.

Up to 20 families were applying for emergency housing in Whangārei each week and that number kept rising, she said.

There were many solutions to tackling the housing crisis and Peters hoped community groups could work with government agencies to achieve the desired outcomes.

Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust chairman, Adrian Whale, said the government's latest housing plan was a great start and something that had been lacking for a long time.

"We've been a holding pen for a while and it's put a lot of pressure on us. The demand for temporary accommodation from single people to large families seem to be pretty steady."