Whanganui households existing on low wages or benefits are being squeezed by rent increases, Salvation Army Major Glenn Anderson says.

The Salvation Army's annual appeal week is on and there are about 50 volunteers out around town collecting money.

Nationally, the Salvation Army is noticing a "new wave of poverty". It says one in five New Zealand children live in poverty, with about 100,000 children in poverty so severe they lack the basics for a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

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Whanganui has its share of those children, and a few extra, Anderson said.

Nationally the Salvation Army has been seeing 336 new families every week. It's not like that in Whanganui.

Since the Salvation Army base moved from Wicksteed St to Indus St there have been fewer people walking in and asking for help. But they are out there.

"Those who really need help seek us out."

Food is the most immediate need for most people. The Salvation Army provides emergency food but the district's main provider is the City Mission's foodbank and Anderson is on its board.

"When you start a conversation about food you become aware of other issues," he said.

One of those is the cost of accommodation. He's hearing some landlords have increased rents by $30 and $40 a week.

The Salvation Army is funded by the Ministry of Social Development to provide transitional social housing for seven households. It employs a full-time social worker to help them get their lives back on track.

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Anderson worries that the Government's Tax Working Group will decide landlords can no longer claim rental expenses against their income. He fears they will respond to that drop in income by either increasing rents, or getting out of renting altogether.

"That can lead to a further tightening of the rental market, and escalating of rental costs."

It would tough in Whanganui, where there is already a lack of houses for rent. Housing New Zealand has promised an extra 20 state houses for the district by 2020, but Anderson said more were needed.

"Those of us working in the field really can't get too excited about that."