Paying the price – the thousands Gabrielle made homeless


Significant concerns about housing have emerged again. Cyclone Gabrielle’s brutal aftermath has left thousands of people homeless.

New Zealand already had a housing shortage – so where to accommodate the newly displaced is a huge question. Housing’s short. Demand exceeds supply. Rents are brutal. How will they – can they – pay the price?

The scale of the problem

It’s thought at least 10,000 people are displaced in Hawke’s Bay and Te Tai Rawhiti alone.

In Gisborne for example, Gabrielle left over 170 homes red- or yellow-stickered.

The city already suffers from a chronic shortage of rental accommodation. A Trade Me search finds eight properties available (five with just one-bedroom).

Motels are full. There are over 560 people waitlisted for social housing.

It’s a similar story in Hawke’s Bay and Wairoa. Officials say it will be a mammoth task to re-home the cyclone displaced people.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said about 800 houses in Auckland and Northland had been evacuated because of the cyclone.

Meantime, people are bunking with friends, family or neighbours. Building inspections are ongoing.

For many, the isolation from main centres will create challenges in repairing houses, bringing in temporary accommodation, and evacuating displaced people.

Damage across the state highway network is severe.

This level of displacement hasn’t been experienced in New Zealand since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Where to find accommodation

Discussions are underway between the Government, charities and iwi to find a solution to the looming housing crisis.

It’s expected the Government’s Temporary Accommodation Service will step in over the next weeks.

By then, access to Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast may have improved and the Civil Defence response will have become more focused on recovery rather than emergency response.

Finding rental accommodation is a giant problem. Paying for it is another.

Trade Me’s Gavin Lloyd says the latest rental prices show a $25 jump per week.

The jump “will be unpleasant news for renters around the country,” Lloyd says.

Lloyd says time will tell how the market will be impacted by the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.

“What we do know is that January marked the second month in a row where the median weekly rent in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Northland reached a record high.”

He expects supply will fall significantly and in turn put more stress on tenants in the affected regions.


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