A Hawke's Bay family with six children have lost count of the number of rentals they have applied for during their fight to keep a roof over their heads.
The Flood family lost their Marewa rental - which they called home for 10 years - last May after it was put on the market.
They have not found a rental since, as rising rents and massive demand continue to upend the market.
"I heard the stories for the last three or four years of what people have been struggling through but I didn't think it was this bad," father Richard Flood said, of their struggle to get a permanent home.
A friend through Hastings Church has been sharing her home with the family after they found themselves effectively homeless last year.
The family of eight has since applied for hundreds of rentals getting knock back after knock back applying for four- and even three-bedroom homes in Napier, Hastings and as far afield as Waipukurau.
"I can't tell you how many properties we have looked for, I have lost count.
"We have just been looking and looking."
Richard said a common reply they received from agents or landlords was because he was a double amputee many homes were unsuitable, or there were too many applicants.
He said he believed because they had six children, landlords were also hesitant.
Richard's legs were amputated in 2017 and 2018 due to complications from bilateral clubfoot which he lived with and managed from birth.
However, he said since receiving prosthetic legs he was a lot stronger and was more mobile, and could easily function in a home with stairs.
"To hear that I'm getting turned down for houses because I'm a double amputee is just, to me, ridiculous.
"I'm so much better with these legs than my real legs. I'm so much stronger."
Richard lives with a constant degree of pain and is on large amounts of pain medication due to another, even rarer, illness called Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome.
Richard said flare-ups from that illness meant he was often rushed to hospital - with 22 visits last year alone.
That makes holding down a regular job extremely difficult and the family survive largely on benefits and Government assistance while Maryann cares for the family.
He said his family needed a permanent home in Hawke's Bay so they could care for their children aged between 3 and 12, get on top of health issues, and move ahead with life.
Two of his sons have recently been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy which has added further pressure to their need for permanent housing.
"Now that my two kids have been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, I think desperate is an understatement.
"You really think about their long term care," he said.
"The home is essential. It is essential just to be able to keep on top of the essential things of life.
"I don't know how ... we are going to do that if we continue to be homeless."
Richard said their budget for a rental was up to $600 per week, at a maximum, and he claimed even that amount could not secure them a home.
Any more than $600 a week and they would be living off food grants, he said.
He said getting on the Housing Register - the waiting list for long-term public housing - was proving difficult and they were still going through that process with Work and Income after initially receiving a knock back letter, seen by Hawke's Bay Today.
He claimed the difficulty was to do with their currently living with a friend.
As at September 2021, there were 2170 people on the Housing Register across the East Coast region, including 1475 people in Napier and Hastings.
That register is for people who have been deemed eligible for public housing but are on the waiting list.
The number of people on the waiting list across the East Coast has almost quadrupled during the last four years.
Richard and Maryann moved back to Hawke's Bay from Wellington just over a decade ago after Richard fell extremely ill and was later diagnosed with Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome.
Prior to that illness the couple were thriving in Wellington and Richard was nearing completion of a law and psychology degree.
"This illness came out of nowhere and really has taken everything."
There is treatment available for his illness, which doctors would like to try to help him live a normal life again, but it would cost $40,000 a year, Richard said.
The family is open to emergency housing grants in the future but wants to find a permanent home rather than try to survive out of a motel room.
Ministry of Social Development general manager housing Karen Hocking said people applying to go on the Housing Register for public housing would "not necessarily be precluded" if they lived with a friend or family member, and each person or family underwent an assessment.
"If they are assessed as being at-risk (A-Priority) or they have a serious housing need (B-Priority) then they would be placed on the register."
She said anyone who had nowhere to stay was encouraged to contact MSD to see if they could receive emergency accommodation, by calling 0800 559 009.
Ministry of Housing's Anne Shaw told Hawke's Bay Today last month that there were plans to build up to 590 extra public housing places and up to 170 transitional housing places in the East Coast region over the next four years.
"Hawke's Bay has some of the highest housing need in New Zealand in relation to population size and its cities are among prioritised focus areas in the Government's housing strategy," she said.
• If you can help the Flood family find a home contact firstname.lastname@example.org.