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Pacific families bearing the brunt of the housing crisis - The Salvation Army report finds

Pacific families are still at the bottom end of New Zealand's housing crisis a recent report shows.

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Tagata Pasifika spoke to an Auckland family of six forced to sleep in one room due to a lack of available housing. Source: Tagata Pasifika

The Salvation Army’s latest housing report shows Pacific communities are still over-represented in homelessness, emergency housing and renting, but underrepresented in homeownership.

One of the symptoms of housing hardship for Pasifika is overcrowding with the knock-on effects of this having a massive impact on the most vulnerable members in a family. 

Tagata Pasifika spoke to one young family of six living in one bedroom.

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Sione Mafi and his wife Mele have had to make-do with their housing situation for now, on top of being crowded in one room, altogether, there’s 12 people living in their three bedroom house.

“It’s very crowded in here and we just want a space for myself and my husband and my kids,” says Ms Mafi.

They’re now living with Mr Mali’s family, his parents and his siblings but they’ve come through the most challenging housing situations, including living in their car for a time, and then in emergency housing.

With only Mr Mafi working at the time, they managed to move into a private rental earlier this year but it was only temporary as other rentals were too expensive.

The strain of it all also being felt by Mr Mafi’s parents, his father, who didn’t want to be on camera, is extremely ill and on dialysis.

Mr Mafi’s mother has also tried to help them look for other options, through Work and Income and Housing New Zealand, but they’re repeatedly told they’re situation is not serious enough and is not a priority case.

According to the Salvation Army’s latest figures on Pacific housing, 29 per cent of homeless people Pacific Islanders and make up over 14 per cent of the waiting list for public housing.

A one-night count found over 1,000 Pacific people were living in temporary accommodation in Auckland.

For the social workers who help families through these difficulties, overcrowding is all too common in the Pacific community, and the knock-on effects are significant.

“The children need space to study, they need space to have good sleep so that when they get up in the morning, ready to go to school, they’re able to concentrate," says Anna Meek of Mangere East Family Services.

"If they’re sleeping in the living room, that means the children don’t go to sleep until everybody goes to sleep. 

“This is where we really need all the services that are in the community to come together and be able to help the families that are really in need,” she says.

Ms Meek been helping the Mafi family get their housing situation sorted, but says the system of trying to get support is confusing, and is failing to help Pacific families.

“The children are still suffering, the family is still going through scenarios, people are supposed to help them, but it’s adding pressure on top of what they already have,” she says.