Hawke's Bay's housing woes have been laid bare by the revelation the cost of accommodating homeless families tripled in the lead-up to winter.
The Ministry of Social Development spent $1.3 million in the six months to July on emergency housing, with 23 Hawke's Bay motels roped in to meet the need.
Latest figures from MSD showed its Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants cost the department $967,681 for the three months to the end of June in Hawke's Bay, a rise of $671,148 on the three months previous.
In the quarter ending 30 June, 2018, 902 grants were made supporting 295 households, compared to 332 grants supporting 153 households in the first three months of the year.
MSD East Coast regional commissioner Annie Aranui said motels now made up about 23 of the 217 transitional housing places in Napier city, Hastings District and Central Hawke's Bay District.
While plans were afoot to build new state houses in the region, Aranui said it would still house homeless in motels and hotels where the need arises.
On top of the motels used, Housing New Zealand also owns two properties which are former motels and were purchased in mid-2017.
These are now managed by contracted housing providers as transitional housing.
It cost a combined $3.69m to buy those properties, formerly known as the Clansman and Napier Gardens motels.
The Government is now set to build a total of 245 more public housing places in the region by June 2022 (Napier City 115, Hastings District 120, Central Hawkes Bay District 10).
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was also monitoring demand for public housing in Hawke's Bay, and would annually update the number of additional housing places being sought to reflect changes in demand.
"While we have demand, we will continue to use motels for emergency accommodation," Aranui said.
A Housing New Zealand spokesman said it had completed 44 new homes in Hawke's Bay as part of its regional state housing programme (40 in Napier and 4 in Hastings).
"We are currently in the final stages of completing a further 11 in Napier. Housing New Zealand is also now in the planning stages to build more new homes for those in need in the region.
"We are still working through our plans for building in this region and will have more detail about where these additional homes will be built over the coming months."