More than $1.2 million has been spent putting up homeless Napier families in motels in nine months.
Across the Hawke's Bay region, the total cost was more than $2m.
The money - a stark indication of the housing crisis in Hawke's Bay - was provided in emergency housing grants between September 2016 and June 2017.
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Affording a home in Hawke's Bay gets tougher
The grants were introduced to help people who were unable to find any other form of accommodation and allowed people to stay in government approved motels or backpacker lodges for seven nights.
Figures released to Hawke's Bay Today by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) showed 2370 emergency housing grants were given out in the Hawke's Bay region between December 2016 and June 2017 - at a cost of more than $2m.
People in Napier received 1521 of the grants - more than half, while 767 grants were provided in Hastings.
The remainder of the grants went to people in Taradale, Flaxmere, Wairoa and Waipukurau.
Hastings Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Kristal Leach said the service was assisting the same number of clients but their needs had changed - the struggle to find a house and rent arrears were now the main issues.
Even after failing to find a place to live, she said the emergency grant was not easy to access either.
"It's pretty tough, you can't just walk in there and say 'I want a place to live'.
"[MSD] actually expect you to go out and have looked at lots of rentals before they put you in a motel," Ms Leach said.
Community Housing Action Team spokeswoman Michelle Pyke said the housing situation in the region was "at the absolute worse" she had seen.
People contacted her on a daily basis seeking help and support.
"I get a lot of private messages on Facebook; people not being safe, saying they're not in safe places - asking me what do they do," Ms Pyke said.
Napier mayor Bill Dalton said the situation was like "nothing we've seen before".
"It certainly appears to be the worst it's ever been. I've never seen us in a little city like Napier having people living on the streets like they are," Mr Dalton said.
"The affordability of housing is the biggest factor, especially if people have a drug issue or an alcohol issue, a lot of their money goes into that area," Dalton said.
"There's just insufficient affordable rental housing available."
Hastings acting mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the shortage of social housing in the Hastings district had been identified by the previous and the new government.
"We have to elevate this problem and address it immediately," she said, adding that she had a meeting planned with the new Minister for Social Development in two weeks time.
The last figures she had seen showed 120 families were waiting for homes in the Hastings area and there was an ongoing overcrowding problem.
"I want to find solutions to this and am looking forward to working on fixing the problem."
Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive for housing Scott Gallacher said a priority was finding affordable rental homes which the ministry could assist people with paying for.
He said the ministry was looking to secure 125 income-related rent subsidised properties in Napier and a further 70 in Hastings.
"Ultimately, we want to ensure everyone in need of safe, secure housing has somewhere to stay in the immediate term.
"Nationwide, we are seeing a drop in the demand for this assistance and an increase in the uptake of transitional housing support," Mr Gallacher said.