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Bay community leaders and social agencies are calling on the Government to take urgent steps to tackle the district’s “housing crisis” in the lead up to this week’s Budget announcement.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said he wanted to see more Government funding for social housing.

“There needs to be more funding provided to social agencies who have the capabilities to deliver more social housing options for people in desperate need,” he said.

He also hoped the Government’s Budget, to be announced on Thursday, would look at establishing a home-start programme for first-home buyers.

“This would allow people to get a deposit for their first home, with either very low interest rates or interest-free for five years, possibly, he said.

Te Tuinga Whanau support service executive director Tommy Wilson said he would like to see a Budget that helped those most in need.

“Too often Budgets are lolly scrambles but there is nothing sweet about not being able to afford a whare to rent, let alone taking the first step on the ownership ladder.

“Every city, especially the fastest growing one in the country (Tauranga), needs six designated state houses for emergency housing to bring those out in the cold this winter inside,” he said.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said there needed to be greater collaboration between councils and central Government, social agencies and private entities to fast-track solutions.

Vanessa Kururangi, spokeswoman for local branch of the State Housing Action Network, said the Government needed to make more social housing available and stop selling off state homes

Ms Kururangi said with so many families living in garages, tents, cars, and parks, including women with children, extra funding for a women’s shelter in Tauranga was needed.

“The time for talking is over. We need urgent action to address our housing crisis,” she said.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council mayor Ross Paterson said there needed to be a think-tank with Government to address affordability.

Ross Stanway, Eves and Bayleys Real Estate chief executive, said there needed to be an increase in supply, starting with making more land available and looking to build more innovative and cost-effective homes, without compromising on quality.

“We need urgent changes to the Resource Management Act to make the process more streamlined and user-friendly with more effective planning processes and compliance procedures.

“It’s going to take better collaboration between local and central government agencies and private entities working to make some key decisions sooner, with sufficient funds to make things happen.”

~Sandra Conchie, Bay of Plenty Times