Tauranga has been identified as an area of high housing need by the Ministry of Social Development, with demand exceeding supply in the city and 240 people waiting to be placed in social housing.

This comes as the ministry prepares to release its latest plan for new public housing across New Zealand.

The plan, due to be released in July, will give the housing sector more detail around the 6400 new state houses the Government announced last month in the Budget.

The new state homes will be built over the next four years – 1600 a year.

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"We can confirm that Tauranga has been identified as an area of high housing need," the ministry's deputy chief executive of housing, Scott Gallacher, said yesterday.

"We know that demand is exceeding supply in Tauranga."

Gallacher said July's plan would include information about what was already in the public housing pipeline, where the ministry would be seeking additional supply (above and beyond that pipeline) and the type of places it would be seeking (number of bedrooms).

"We'll also provide information about what we're looking for across emergency housing [special needs grant], transitional housing, and Housing First."

As at March 31, there were 240 people on the Social Housing Register in Tauranga.

The register represents applicants not currently in public housing who have been assessed as eligible for public housing, and who are ready to be matched to a suitable property.

Gallacher said the number of places the ministry would be seeking in the plan would be a guide only – "not a set target or limit".

"We will continue to monitor demand information as it becomes available, and will take on board feedback from the housing sector to adapt our approach where needed, to meet changing needs."

A spokesman for Housing Minister Phil Twyford said once the ministry's plan was released next month, Housing New Zealand and other providers would work on a plan for building more homes.

He said deals had to be signed before announcements could be made.

Tommy Kapai Wilson, director of Te Tuinga Whanau – Support Services Trust, said companies with low-cost housing concepts were knocking on the trust's door almost weekly looking for a way into Twyford's housing plan.

"I feel comfortable in knowing the immediate transitional housing has been taken as seriously as it has," Wilson said.

"Now it is time to hear where and when the much-needed additional houses for Tauranga will be built."

Tommy Kapai Wilson, director of Te Tuinga Whanau - Support Services Trust. Photo / File
Tommy Kapai Wilson, director of Te Tuinga Whanau - Support Services Trust. Photo / File

Greg Orchard, chief executive of Accessible Properties, which owns the majority of Tauranga's social housing, said his organisation was ready to increase supply and accelerate delivery of additional community housing in Tauranga – and potentially other areas – if the Government wanted its help to solve the housing crisis.

"We have been expecting the Government to announce its purchase intentions for social housing and look forward to seeing the details," he said.

"We know there is significant unmet need for social housing in Tauranga and other areas and that meeting this need and addressing homelessness can only be done through the building and supply of additional social housing."

Orchard said Tauranga had one of the highest needs for increased levels of community housing in the country "with a historic significant underinvestment in state and community housing compared to other areas".


According to the latest available Ministry of Social Development figures, Tauranga has:
•1220 public housing places
•104 transitional housing places for families in immediate need of a place to live, which will house up to 416 families in need each year – compared with 69 transitional housing places in December 2017.
•Tauranga also has funding to house and support up to 100 long-term homeless people through the Housing First programme, which began outreach in the city during May.