Plight affecting growing number

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Housing needs – Call for action

Dunedin’s social agencies are at the coal face of the city’s gathering housing crisis, and say housing is a major issue for a growing number of people.

Salvation Army Community Ministries manager David McKenzie said through working on transitional housing support with MSD and with people who came through its doors, it was clear that “there is just not enough housing out there”.

“We are working with people who are weeks and weeks in motels – we are not able to get them moved on because there is an inadequate support of private rentals or social housing.”

And there were many more people in the city who were experiencing housing insecurity and were couch-surfing or living in overcrowded conditions.

“This is a group that are not represented in the official numbers,” he said.

Researching client numbers with other agencies, it appeared that there could be up to 600 people a year experiencing housing need, Mr Mckenzie said.

“We really need for there to be some more emergency housing and social housing in the pipeline quite quickly.”

Presbyterian Support Otago chief executive Michael Parker said the challenge of finding housing in Dunedin “applied to all socio-economic groups”.

Family Works received constant approaches from people seeking housing support – an average of at least one per workday in the past six months.

“We continue to see an ongoing trend of people in Dunedin not having rentals renewed, and needing to find new accommodation for a variety of reasons,” Mr Parker said.

Some families were on waiting lists for months before finding accommodation, and others were living in unsuitable or unaffordable housing.

Anglican Family Care director Nicola Taylor said it was difficult to gain an accurate number of affected clients, as the situation was fluid.

Some families were stuck in substandard accommodation due to being unable to access social housing or afford private rentals, or missed out repeatedly on private rentals due to competition and credit issues.

Ms Taylor said solutions might include increasing the social housing stock, incentives for landlords to raise the quality of their rental properties, or a warrant of fitness of rental properties.