Whanganui will get new state and transitional houses as part of the Government's Public Housing Plan but the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development can't say exactly how many.
The new public housing is a step in the right direction, but is an issue that won't be resolved overnight, some local leaders say.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the Government's Public Housing Plan on Thursday which identified where the additional 8000 home announced in last year's Budget will go.
Whanganui is among the number of towns and regions recognised as one of the "focus areas", including Northland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Gisbourne, Napier, Hastings and Palmerston North.
The Public Housing Plan says there will be an increase of 568 state and transitional homes across the Central region, which includes Palmerston North and Whanganui.
But the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development cannot yet say exactly how many of those will be allocated to Whanganui.
As of September 30, 2020, there were 2337 public houses and 147 transitional houses in the Central region.
The plan is for this to increase to 2834 public houses and 232 transitional houses by 2024.
According to the ministry, 987 people in the Central region were on the housing register at June 2020. That increased to 1221 by September 30.
The Government also said it would tackle planning laws, try to tilt the market to first-home buyers and boost the supply of all kinds of housing, from public to affordable housing.
The country's state house waiting list continues to balloon; nearly 22,500 people are now on the public housing waitlist.
Whanganui was recognised as a focus area as median house prices have doubled over the past four years and renting prices continue to rise.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said the housing plan was "absolutely fantastic" and had come a very critical time.
"We are suffering a crisis," he said. "It's something that has crept up onto us over the last few years.
"As much as council can, we have tried to intervene. Through our housing strategy and working with iwi, we are working together for solutions."
McDouall said he wasn't sure where Whanganui would fall in the pecking order for housing funding, as some other regions were struggling more.
"I boldly said we would have been low down on the food chain, but it is great to see that investment being made."
He said historically, housing hadn't been the biggest issue for Whanganui, but noticed a "crisis" in 2017.
"It emerged in the rental market. I remember a woman had moved to town in 2017 and she was one of 25 people competing for a one-bedroom flat."
He had been talking to at least four different groups looking at providing social housing in the area and said he and the council had lobbied extensively for investment in housing in the past few years.
Whanganui MP Steph Lewis said the announcement was exciting for Whanganui.
"I'm obviously very pleased to hear that. Housing has been one of the top issues of constituent inquiries that myself and my team have been trying to respond to."
She said hoped "a fair percentage" of the 483 homes for the Central region would be in Whanganui.
"From what I've seen it's definitely heading in the right direction and is very encouraging. Obviously, providing more houses would presumably mean building more houses, which will also help create new jobs in Whanganui, which is another bonus."
Lewis said the influx of people moving into the region from main centres had added additional pressure.
"I think we have seen those main centres have become less affordable. More and more people have moved to the regions and that has put a lot of pressure on those already living here who were already struggling to make ends meet.
"I've heard stories of properties in Waverley being on the market only for a week and people are just desperate to get onto the property ladder."
Lewis said affordable rentals in Whanganui were "almost as rare as finding hen's teeth".
Lewis said pressure on the rental market reflected in the increase in rent that landlords were charging.
She said the issue would not be fixed overnight and would continue to be a main focus and priority as long as she was in office.