8 Apr 2017

Housing issues : 'People are hurting', say church group

5:03 pm on 8 April 2017

A church in Lower Hutt is staging a protest on vacant Housing New Zealand land in a bid to get the government to tackle the city's housing crisis - and fast.

State houses in Northcote

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Dozens of people from the Anglican Diocese of Wellington had been camping out on the block of land opposite St David's Church in Naenae since yesterday.

The church's Reverend Martin Robinson said the state houses that used to be on the land were knocked down several years ago, but there was no sign they would be rebuilt anytime soon.

He said the church was seeing many families desperate for accommodation.

"We just kept hearing all these stories all the time, of families living in garages, people waiting for over a year to get somewhere to live, people squeezed into nook and crannies while they wait for accommodation," he said.

"And at the same time, we saw all this barren land with no obvious signs of building."

Mr Robinson said people were in dire need of emergency accommodation.

"Given the crisis, the high rentals, the increased house prices, where do people who can't afford it go? It's just the folks who really need it most that are really missing out."

He said the church had discussed what was happening on the land with Housing New Zealand, and were told plans were still in the conceptual or design stages.

"People feel fairly cynical, until there's actually some evidence of tangible action, I guess they feel like it's just words, so we're just keen to encourage the government to really move on this issue because we know a lot of people are hurting."

The sit-in will continue until Sunday.