Detailed priority system praised as `robust' by Sallies after ministry takes on new role.

'Cave' dwellers will officially get top priority for social housing under new rules that kicked in this week.

The Ministry of Social Development, which took over social housing allocation from Housing New Zealand on Monday, has posted detailed rules on its website which are far more transparent than HNZ ever was.

They include the first clear income and asset limits for social housing: net income after tax below $550.41 a week for single people and $846.78 for people with partners and/or children, and cash assets below $40,231.

They also list rules to determine the suitability of a family's housing, including the number of accessible bedrooms per person. Cars, 'caves', sheds, public places and living areas within a house, are not considered accessible bedrooms.


A caravan is "one accessible bedroom", suitable for a couple or for two siblings of the same sex, but not for opposite-sex siblings aged 10 or over.

Top priority for allocating social housing will be given to families whose housing is three or more bedrooms below their needs, earning four points and going straight into "category A" if they also have at least two points on other criteria such as affordability of their current housing or "difficulties in social functioning".

Two bedrooms short earn three points. One bedroom short earns two points, which is unlikely to be enough by itself to qualify for social housing.

Salvation Army housing analyst Alan Johnson said the new system appeared to be very systematic and did not leave much room for discretion - "which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing ... I think the system looks quite robust."

Auckland City Mission worker Wilf Holt said he had never found anyone living in a cave in Auckland, but homeless people often made their own "caves" under bridges.

Living safely
"Unsuitable'' housing
Cars, 'caves', sheds, public places, living areas, garages.

"Suitable'' housing
Caravans, sleepouts.

On the web here.