Ten new state houses are now being built by the Government every day, but the waiting list for them keeps growing.

And the costs of the public housing shortage are also rising, with nearly $50 million being spent every quarter on placing homeless in motels until a permanent home can be found.

Quarterly housing figures showed the number of people on the public housing wait-list grew from 13,966 to 14,869 in the last three months of 2019 - a record high.

When the Coalition Government came to power in 2017, the public housing waiting list was at 5844.

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Kāinga Ora (previously Housing New Zealand) housed 1937 households in the last quarter, but over the same period another 5177 applicants joined the waiting list.

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said a number of factors were contributing to the growing wait-list, including strong demand in the rental market and the housing stock not keeping pace with population growth.

"The big one is the crisis this Government inherited from its predecessor, which left a net loss of 1500 state houses when it left office."

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He said the Government's kinder approach to those in need was also a significant factor.

"We made a commitment to people that, if they came forward, they would get help, and that has contributed to waiting list numbers too."

Because of the multiple causes contributing to housing demand, it was not possible to predict when the housing register might peak, plateau or decline, Faafoi said.

The growth of the public housing register comes despite increased construction and acquisition of new properties by Kāinga Ora and Community Housing Providers.

In December alone, 408 new public housing places were created (including 317 new builds, or 10 a day). That is the twice as many as the previous month.

A quarter of the new housing places were "redirects" - the shuffling of public housing from one provider to another - which do not increase overall housing stock.

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National Party social housing spokesman Simon O'Connor said the Government had underestimated how difficult the sector was: "It is an another example of the Government failing to deliver."

Asked how National would reverse the growing wait-list, he said it would work more closely with Community Housing Providers to build more homes.

The Coalition Government removed upfront funding for these organisations and focused instead on building as many houses as possible through Kāinga Ora.

The number of emergency housing grants fell in the last quarter, but the amount being spent on them jumped from $41.6 million to $48.1m. The grants are used to temporarily house homeless people for a week at a time, usually in motels.

The initiative was introduced by the previous National Government when the housing crisis hit, but has massively expanded under the Coalition Government because of ongoing housing shortages and rising rents.

The Government announced new measures this month which were designed to reduce dependence on motels, including a charge for tenants who stayed in emergency accommodation longer than a week, a big increase in transitional housing places, and more support for renters who were at risk of becoming homeless.

There are now 70,474 public housing tenancies managed by Kāinga Ora and Community Housing Providers, up from 63,300 when the Coalition Government was elected.

The Coalition Government put a halt to the sale of state houses, and has set a target of 6400 new homes by 2022, taking the total stock to 73,000.

It is running ahead of that target, but is battling a major housing shortfall - estimated to be around 30,000 to 40,000 homes in Auckland alone.


PUBLIC HOUSING - BY THE NUMBERS
• 70,474 total public housing places.
• $792m spent on housing support.
• 14,869 households on the public housing register.
• 1937 households housed.
• 5177 households added to the register.
(Oct-Dec 2019)