The number of people registered as urgently needing housing has doubled in the past two years.
The Ministry of Social Development's Housing Register shows people in the at-risk category with severe and persistent housing needs have risen from a low of 1641 in June 2015 to a new high of 3422 in March this year, the latest available figure.
A further 1433 on the Priority B list have serious housing needs.
Emergency housing providers and support groups said government measures to tackle the problem have fallen short.
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said housing pressures had increased over the last year and that contributed to the big rise.
But in the same period, the housing list was reassessed, and more people were moved up into the most at-risk category.
"And I think you end up with the right thing to do, because it gives us a truer picture of how we prioritise."
Ms Adams told Morning Report 900 homes were available at the moment and another 600 were expected to be by the end of the month.
People on the housing register's Priority A list are those considered at risk, and include households with a severe and persistent housing need that must be addressed immediately.
Emergency housing providers said figures showing a doubling of the number of people in 'severe and urgent housing need' are in fact a small percentage of the true figure.
The NZ Council of Christian Social Services said it now gets ten to 15 requests for housing a week, compared with five to ten enquiries this time last year.
Listen to the discussion with the council's Trevor McGlinchey and the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust's Bernie Smith.