The number of people in the urgent queue for social housing has passed 10,000 - a 70 per cent increase in the last year.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the huge increase showed that the "hidden homeless" in New Zealand were now coming forward.

"It's going to take a concerted effort over many years to end homelessness," he said.

"The housing crisis was created over a decade and isn't going to be fixed overnight."

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The big rise in the waiting list came despite what the Government called the biggest increase in state and community housing in a decade - 1658 new places in the last year.

Of that total, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development said 1106 were newly-built, permanent properties constructed or acquired by Housing NZ or community housing developers.

As the wait-list grows, the time applicants are waiting for a house is also growing.

The average wait is now 157 days, up from 122 days a year ago. Officials have noted that the average time is pulled upwards by several outlying statistics. The median wait-time for a house is 98 days.

The newly-released figures also show the Government is now spending nearly $20 million on emergency grants, most of which are used to temporarily house people in motels.

Twyford was critical of the use of motels for social housing when in Opposition but has accepted that they are necessary until affordable and social housing ramps up.