There are many New Zealanders in dire need for somewhere safe and affordable to live, but there is simply not enough houses to home them, the Salvation Army says.
Figures released to 1 NEWS, revealed yesterday, showed 10 motel and housing providers paid the most for emergency housing have received $75 million between them since March 2017.
That's not the total cost, just what has gone to the top 10 providers - but some of it is for very basic accommodation and at very expensive rates, with some rooms costing $2000 a week.
But the alternative is living on the street or in cars.
Jono Bell, director of community ministries at the Salvation Army, this morning told Breakfast he hears and sees tragic stories of people needing support, including overcrowding, people living in garages and other crises every day.
Bell said there were amazing providers in the social service sector working hard to get people into appropriate housing, but added: "The challenge is properties ... We just don't have the houses to put people."
"We are building social housing, so that's long-term, affordable housing for people, but also through our transitional housing programme we do rely on the private market and Kāinga Ora to give us houses for that."
Yesterday Breakfast host John Campbell visited a motel in Auckland being used as emergency accommodation. One resident Teresa told him it was "heaven" living in the motel compared with being homeless and sleeping rough on the streets.
In the Salvation Army's transitional housing, people pay up to 25 per cent of their income - that's just over $100 for a family or between $50 and $60 for a single person.
"For those that are on low income, that is also taken into account so it really does give them a bit of a break because one of the main issues of homelessness is the affordability of housing," Bell said.
"It is a real issue and coming into transitional housing they get to pay 25 per cent of their income which gives them a breather financially and enables them to get on track with their finances, as well as some of those underlying issues.
"Everybody, every human, every New Zealander deserves the dignity of having home, having the safety that a home affords.
"I think the Government, everybody acknowledges that motels, some of this accommodation is not suitable at all, it's expensive.
"The alternative is people going into homes, homes for life that are affordable, that are safe, that are dry - we just don't have those homes in the country, so people are missing out at the want of getting a roof over their heads, they're forced into emergency housing."
Bell urged any Kiwis or investors with properties siting dormant to get it on the market.
"This does require an all of New Zealand response, it's not just Government, it's not just the Salvation Army - we do need some properties.
"Let's ensure that we get families into homes, getting people that are on the streets into some warm, dry accommodation."