'Gone backwards' — Northland family homeless again as housing crisis continues to bite

Last May, Tish Noah and her family were given a lifeline with a Government-funded iwi initiative to house the homeless in caravans during the lockdown. Now, she says they've "gone backwards" and are homeless again, as the housing crisis continues to bite in Northland.

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Tish Noah says she hunts every day, but “there’s no housing out there”. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're still looking for homes. I know there's none out there, but something has to be done," she told 1 NEWS today.

"Because every day I see my two children more unsettled because they haven't got a home to call home. And that makes me upset."

When she last spoke to 1 NEWS, Noah and her family had just moved out of a derelict caravan, where the family of four had been living for around four months after her partner Billy had a stroke.

They were able to temporarily move into one of 64 new caravans sent to Northland to help ease homelessness during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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The biggest problem in the housing market is supply. Source: 1 NEWS

Billy has since died and Noah is homeless, in emergency housing, struggling to find somewhere to live with her children. She's been separated from her 14-year-old son as the rooms are too small.

"From there we've just gone backwards. I've been hunting every day for a house for us, but there's no housing out there," Noah says.

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Campervan fleet sent to Northland to help ease homelessness amid lockdown

"Things happen but we've been jumping from home to home, and now we've ended up at emergency housing in Whangaroa."

Noah says she can't explain the difficulties of being homeless, adding, "The only thing that keeps me going is my two kids."

She wants people to realise there's "nothing out there".

"I've searched high and I've searched low. I've put some contacts at the garage where I currently do some hours. I've talked to everybody that comes through the garage. I've spoken to the rūnanga. There's just nothing. 

"At this stage, I think I'm just going to have to uplift my children and see if there's something anywhere else, instead of staying up here."

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1 NEWS’ Simon Dallow runs through some of the big moves in the package.

Twenty years ago, the median price of a house in Northland was around $130,000. It's rocketed up to $655,000 this year.

In just the last year, the median price rose 26 per cent, according to data by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Rent prices have also gone up, now at a median of $420 per week in Northland, according to Trade Me Property's rental price index.

Nationally, rents went up four per cent last year. In Northland, there was a 2.2 per cent increase.

In a bid to help curb the soaring housing prices, the Government today announced a swathe of new policies.

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Government puts $3.8 billion into speeding up pace and scale of house building

It includes a $3.8 billion boost to help housing supply, aimed at increasing the pace and scale of home building in New Zealand.

It also includes efforts to help first home buyers get on the ladder; in Northland specifically, the price cap for the First Home Grant and First Home Loan in Northland has raised from $400,000 to $500,000 — still below the median price.

The Government hopes the investment will see up to 130,000 new homes built over the next 20 years.

It's estimated New Zealand is short around 80,000 already.

For Noah, she says her family haven't had an easy time but call themselves "fighters".

"I've been working really hard just to find somewhere, a house, so me and my two children can become a family again... There's got to be housing out there somewhere."