The number of Wairarapa families forced to live in cold and overcrowded conditions this winter is still not being accurately reflected in official figures, some of the region’s key players are saying.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development show 41 Masterton families in need of social housing but Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson says this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Talk to social workers, police and community organisations as they are at the coalface and they see the need every day,” she said.
She said the ministry’s figures still failed to accurately reflect the “real need”, with many still unaware they needed to go on the register.
“There are many reasons why people are not registering – some are unaware they need to, or family living with other family members may be in breach of rental agreements, they don’t want to disclose their current situation, or know there are no houses so don’t bother registering.”
Trust House chief executive Allan Pollard said there were 50 families on its waiting list at present but wasn’t sure if these were in addition to the 41 on the ministry’s social housing register.
“That’s a potential of 91 tenants,” he said.
He said Trust House had the capacity to build 99 houses, which would wipe out the waiting list completely, but yesterday’s Budget announcement needed to reflect an all-inclusive strategy to alleviate the region’s rental crisis.
“There have been a lot of promises but KiwiBuild doesn’t help us,” he said.
Mr Pollard has repeatedly insisted Trust House can “cure” the region’s demand for social housing but it cannot build houses without government investment.
“Like many other community housing providers, we’ve got plenty of land – but we need a capital subsidy to increase the housing supply,” he said.
“Within two to three years, with a $20 million capital subsidy, there would be no waiting list in Wairarapa, in my opinion.”
He said he has met both the Housing Minister and deputy chief executive of housing for the ministry and both were “keen” to work with Trust House.
“We’re doing all we can but it’s about the money – you can’t sugar coat it.”
Mrs Patterson said immediate intervention was needed as the situation leading into the winter months would worsen. Emergency housing was only a short-term solution.
“It’s going to take a long time to fix the housing crisis, but we need to start now.
“The solutions are there – for example, Easibuild modular houses are manufactured in Masterton using local labour and materials, but central government need to provide funding to community housing providers.”
She also wanted to see the Budget allow existing Trust House tenants to be assessed for Income Related Rents.
“This has been denied to Trust House tenants since it was introduced in 2001.
“Now that Trust House is a community housing provider, it’s time for this government to right a wrong of the past.”