State house applicant has been on wait list for 18 years, new data shows

As demand for public housing balloons, official data released to 1 NEWS reveals one New Zealander has been on the wait list for a state home for 18 years and others have waited almost as long. 

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And others have been waiting almost as long, according to data released to 1 NEWS. Source: 1 NEWS

The latest figures showed one person had been on the list for 6717 days - about 18 years - another for 6057 days and the third-longest pending wait is 5716 days.

Aucklander Shervarn Wade had been on and off the state housing waiting list since 2018, but despite her son having breathing problems she has not been able to get a house. 

"It's sad because I actually want him to have his own room, something he can call his own instead of moving place to place," she said. 

In April last year, Ms Wade wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to ask for advice and help. 

She wrote she had been on the wait list for over a year, and at that stage had a four-month-old child with continuous respiratory tract infections while living at her mother's cold and uninsulated house. 

Ms Wade said she did not want to go into emergency housing due to the conditions.

She was told her comments were noted and passed on to the Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development at the time, but she had not had a response. 

Ricardo Menéndez-March of Auckland Action Against Poverty said many people who have been on the waiting list for months had children staying in "unhealthy, unsuitable conditions". 

"Our housing stock is at crisis level."  

National's housing spokesperson Judith Collins said she wondered "if people have put their names on the list where there are no state houses actually being built, but I have to say it's one of the oddest statistics I've seen". 

At the time of the last election, almost 6000 were on the public housing list. Now, almost 14,500 households are on the list. 

Ministry of Social Development's housing general manager Karen Hocking wrote in the official data response the housing register was "not a time-ranked wait list". 

"Some people on the housing register have exceptional circumstances, which makes accessing suitable and affordable accommodation more difficult and may result in them remaining on the housing register for an extended period of time," she wrote. 

"The ministry works closely with these people to ensure that any potential housing arrangements are well suited to their needs and provide a long-term housing solution."

The Government says it soon would have delivered more than 5000 new public housing spaces, and the average wait is now 116 days. 

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said the Government is "committed to getting Kiwis into homes". 

"A place to call home is essential to a person’s wellbeing. A stable and affordable home provides a crucial platform for recovery, employment, education and wider community engagement and participation," he said in writing. 

"It is not appropriate to go into details of specific cases but where there are instances of people on the housing register for extended periods of time, it is because of a complex range of issues and needs and agencies work together to find solutions. 

"Ending homelessness is a priority for this Government. Every New Zealander has a right to a warm, dry, secure and safe place to live."

It comes as the Government last week gave the new housing entity Kāinga Ora a $4 billion leap in borrowing limits, of up to $7.1 billion.   

Kāinga Ora provides tenancy services and is responsible for building and maintaining state houses. It also works to deliver urban developments and KiwiBuild. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Housing Minister Megan Woods approved the increase in December 2019, to take effect from January 1.