10 Jul 2015

'Auckland housing at crisis point,' says budget advisor

6:22 am on 10 July 2015

An Auckland budget advisor says the lack of affordable housing has reached crisis point.

Housing New Zealand says the demand now is for larger homes, and smaller one bedroom units.

Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

Data from the 2013 Census shows about 4,000 people are living in shacks, garages and cars and just over half of them are working.

The manager of the Ōtāhūhū Budgeting Service, Lesley Matia, said 99 percent of her clients, which number in the hundreds, are having problems being able to afford housing.

She said rents were too high and continue to grow far beyond the means of many people.

"Even though you get a pay-rise, every year either the power goes up, telephone, food, everything goes up, but those people remain on the same level."

Ms Matia said the Government urgently needs to build more houses.

"Rather than sell off properties like the Government is doing , why don't they put extra houses on that same property? Or even the revenue from houses, from the rent, put that revenue into building more houses."

She said new tenancy laws being proposed, which include that landlords provide insulation and smoke alarms, will push rents up even further.

Ms Matia said a lot of people she dealt with ended up getting into rent arrears and were evicted.

"We are here 24/7 until we find them accommodation."

She said one option was for people to bring in boarders to supplement their income, but that could be difficult for already large families.

"As long as the rent or mortgage is paid, that is the priority - and then the power -because number one is that they have somewhere to live."

She said it was important whānau have a roof over their head.

"Even if it means putting them into a boarding house that will accept parents with children".

Last month Prime Minister John Key told Parliament that his priority was to provide a good social housing service.

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