The Anglican Church believes the government has abdicated its responsibility to house the most vulnerable.
The Church today held what it called services of lament on empty Housing New Zealand sites, a centuries old practice of acknowledging grief as a step towards healing and restoration.
The Rev Martin Robinson said it was a shocking state of affairs when 40,000 people were considered homeless, and more than 10,000 were in prison.
He said the church wanted the government to urgently increase the supply of social housing.
"This government, that's spent well over a quarter of a billion dollars on a war in Afghanistan, at the same time dropped the ball on the housing, and so people in New Zealand suffer while they're spending money on armaments et cetera, and people living in substandard conditions."
Mr Robinson said 64 hectares of Housing New Zealand land was vacant, and there were no plans for houses on half that land.