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Dunedin welfare agencies say young men in the city affected by the recession are unable to find adequate rental accommodation and are living in boarding houses or couch surfing.
Presbyterian Support director of communications Lisa Wells said a shortage of one and two-bedroom homes in Dunedin hit elderly, single and young people.
The price of rental accommodation in Dunedin was pushed up by the student population, and vulnerable people were bearing the brunt of the crisis, she said.
"There has been a huge rise of young men affected by the recession.
They stay wherever they can get a bed," Mrs Wells said.
Some were couch surfing, or living in community-run boarding houses.
Despite 28 Housing New Zealand homes being available in the city, some people were not old enough to access the service, or had been pushed down the queue by families who were given higher priority on the waiting list, social agencies said.
Methodist Mission community and social services section manager Sue Nash said clients with disabilities were unable to live in the hill suburbs, and needed housing on flat land.
Single men with children also found it hard to access two-bedroom Housing New Zealand homes, and were often unable to meet custody arrangements because they did not have adequate accommodation.
There was no Housing New Zealand office in Dunedin, and clients found it difficult explaining their needs through an 0800 number.
"People are just a number now," Mrs Wells said.
Housing New Zealand figures showed 28 Housing New Zealand properties were ready to lease in Dunedin, and 17 people were waiting for homes in September.
A Housing New Zealand spokesperson said the agency was working on improving homes for tenants.
It was also selling deficient properties and building new houses.
- Cameron Carpenter