Lower Hutt's social housing wait list has jumped 42 per cent in just one month highlighting mounting pressure on the Wellington region's market.
Those who are most vulnerable are being priced out as people look further afield from the capital to buy properties and secure rentals.
A response to a written parliamentary question reveals the number of applicants on Lower Hutt's waiting list was 639 at the end of October last year.
This is up from 451, listed in the Ministry of Social Development's latest publicly available reporting, to the end of September.
Nationally, MSD social housing wait lists have quadrupled over the past four years.
Wellington City's waiting list is in line with that trend but Lower Hutt's is growing at twice the national increase.
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Hutt South MP Chris Bishop said his office dealt with people trying to find homes on a weekly basis.
"There's huge concern out there, rents have gone up 80 bucks a week in two years and now you're seeing the social housing wait list at record levels.
"My heart just breaks for the families out there looking for a house who can't get one."
In November Hutt City Council released a report into projected housing and business demand to 2047.
It showed the city has insufficient development capacity to meet demand over that timeframe with a projected shortfall of up to 6783 dwellings.
The report didn't take into account a recent district plan change to reduce barriers to traditional infill and minor dwellings, and to introduce medium density housing, but council chief executive Jo Miller said there was still a lot of work to be done.
"Since 2001, house prices have increased more than three times faster than household incomes and rent rises have also outstripped income increases.
"As a result, we've had accommodation eating up far too much of people's incomes and that hurts our economy. We've needed to confront a rise in homelessness that's pushing families – particularly children – into desperate straits, and we have many young people and working families unable to buy their first homes", Miller said at the time.
Freshly elected mayor Campbell Barry also promised on the campaign trail to double the council's social housing stock.
More than 150 state and affordable homes are being built at Housing New Zealand's Epuni site, the first of which are expected to be available from mid-2020.
All of Wellington's satellite cities are feeling the same pressure.
Porirua's relative wait list growth is almost the same as Lower Hutt's - double the national increase.
Upper Hutt's wait list has gone from almost non-existent to 154, which is almost four times the national increase.
Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said building activity had not kept up with Wellington City's strong population growth in recent years leading to an imbalance between supply and demand.
That has pushed up house prices and rents, leading people to look further afield, he said.
"They're looking to be able to buy, or rent and live a little bit further outside but still within the region so they can commute in. That's putting pressure on those areas outside of Wellington City to actually service that need."
The trend is one Olsen expects to continue, meaning costs will also keep increasing.
"Because of that growth in those areas we are seeing price increases coming through and it's making it harder for those in a more vulnerable financial situation to maintain their payments or to maintain their housing situation they've currently got, so it is starting to price them out."