Housing a game of 'musical chairs'

Christchurch's vulnerable families are losing out in a game of "musical chairs" around few affordable homes.

An action group of social welfare and education representatives are meeting in Christchurch today to discuss growing housing issues in the hope of influencing policy.

Keynote speaker Sue Hay, a Salvation Army social policy worker, said the emerging issue for families in Christchurch was rent going up once repairs on their homes were completed.

"That's not sustainable. We're getting close to absolute poverty."

There was an average of 2.64 people living in each household in Christchurch in 2013, which was consistent with the rest of the country.

But there were some houses with 16 people living there, Hay said.

Rent in Aranui had increased between 29 and 36 per cent. In Hornby, rent had increased 25 to 40 per cent.

"That's hard for working families, let alone those on a benefit", Hay said.

It was a "game of musical chairs", with families competing for the few available affordable properties.

"We're seeing people in tents, cars or on couches as they move from one to another when they outstay their welcome."

There was a 70 per cent participation in the workforce in Christchurch, higher than the rest of the country.

But "will it last, that is the question", said Hay.

The seminar continues today, with Linwood Avenue School principal Gerard Direen addressing the group this afternoon about issues currently facing vulnerable children in the city.

The Press