An alarming number of Auckland families are being forced to live together in one house so they can afford rent and living expenses, a leading budgeting adviser says.
It comes as an ASB analysis of the New Zealand housing market released to the Herald today reveals that Auckland has a disproportionate share of multiple families living under one roof.
As of 2013 (the most recent Census), nearly 70 per cent of all three-family households and over half of two-family households were located in the city. The fastest growing households between 2001 and 2013 were those with six or more people living in them.
On average, there were three people per household in Auckland. Elsewhere, that figure was 2.7.
Georgina Matenga lives in a two-bedroom Papakura flat with her sisters-in-law, Sharlene, Julieanna and Suzanne Phillips, along with one nephew and two nieces.
Ms Matenga is on a sickness benefit because of her type 1 diabetes and said her income is barely enough to cover rent, let alone power and food. "It is too dear. I don't get much to support myself. This year has been pretty shocking. I really do need my own space, because I have got to get my own children too," she said.
"We are not getting listened to when we ask for help. I'm not getting anywhere with anybody."
The young mum has five children of her own between the ages of 7 and 11, all whom live with other family members.
"I can't have them back unless I find my own place and I have found it hard over the past two or three years," she said.
"It sucks, it hurts and if affects me a lot emotionally. I'm lucky to have them once or twice a year."
Suzanne Phillips said seven people under one roof was "very crowded" and made life difficult.
"My rent is terrible and this is only a flat," she said. "I have got the biggest room and my sister has got the smallest room and [my other sister] crashes in the living room.
"My other sister, she is pregnant, and she comes over for the weekend so I let her have my room and I sleep in the sitting room with my kids and my other sister."
The sisters now face an even bigger problem. Last month, they were informed their flat had been sold and they were given 43 days to find somewhere else to live.
Ms Phillips said she would have to take her three children and move into her grandparents' one-bedroom flat if she could not find a new home.
Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans said many families in Auckland were forced to live together to afford basic means of living.
"Families simply can't afford to pay between 60 to 65 per cent of their weekly income to the landlord, which the vast majority of them are having to pay, and unfortunately there is little left over after you have paid rent to pay the power, buy food and live," Mr Evans said.
"So some families are losing their homes to rental arrears. There has been a lot of people made redundant this year which has also added to it and there are not enough social houses available," Mr Evans said.
"What happens is, existing families living in a state house will naturally want to support their family that have lost their home and they get them to move in, but the difficulty of getting them to move in is ... overcrowding," he said.
While overcrowding has become a solution for many desperate families, Mr Evans said it was dangerous because those families became far more prone to serious illness.
To combat the issue, Mr Evans said raising the minimum wage and increasing the number of social houses available would help.