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Despite the waiting list being the longest in at least three years, 53 Housing New Zealand (HNZ) properties in Dunedin are empty, 28 of which are listed as ``pending sale''.
This comes after readers contacted the Otago Daily Times to ask why some HNZ properties around the city were vacant when people were being forced to sleep in cars.
A HNZ tenant living in Albertson Ave, Port Chalmers, said three connected four-bedroom HNZ properties had been vacant for at least a year.
Someone was regularly paid to mow the lawns of the properties and she and other residents of the street wondered why they could not be used to house people in desperate housing situations.
HNZ asset development general manager Patrick Dougherty said some of the vacant houses were undergoing minor or major repairs.
``This includes repair from fire damage, being cleaned and maintained between tenancies and awaiting meth decontamination,'' Mr Dougherty said.
Of the 53 vacant properties, 28 were listed as ``pending sale''.
However, HNZ was working with the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) to provide more houses in locations where demand had increased in recent times.
Where there was demand, houses listed as ``pending sale'' could be ``returned to the letting pool''.
``Several properties have recently been returned to the letting pool in the area and another property in Murray St, Mosgiel, will soon do the same.''
Remaining Port Chalmers and Mosgiel properties marked for sale would be matched to demand to see if they were suitable.
In general, if properties were sold, it would only be where they were of the wrong size or type to meet demand.
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams recently said the Government had made it clear HNZ should sell houses only when it was clear there was falling demand.
Ms Curran said it did not make sense houses were still marked for sale, as demand was clearly rising.
The houses listed as ``pending sale'', including those in Murray St, which had long been left vacant, instead needed to be immediately taken off the market, fixed up and readied for use to meet a ``chronic shortage'' of affordable housing.
She was not surprised the waiting list for HNZ houses was continuing to climb.
She was seeing multiple fresh cases a week of people in desperate situations and believed the list represented the ``tip of the iceberg''.
``There are people fighting to get on the list who can't make it on, even though they are in really difficult circumstances.''
MSD figures showed the waiting list for a HNZ property in Dunedin had climbed to 101 as of the end of March.
The list includes 25 people already in HNZ properties waiting to be rehoused because their current property is considered not ideal for their circumstances.
This is the longest waiting list since at least mid-2014, which is as far back as the records go.