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On the hunt . . . Tristan Hawtin and Nat Warden and their children, Skyla Hawtin (4) and Emma Warden (12), are trying to find a house in Oamaru. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Tristan Hawtin and Nat Warden and their two children are among the families that are desperate for a house in Oamaru.

Since they moved from Gore to Oamaru eight months ago, they say it has been an uphill battle trying to find a place to live.

The family is presently living with Mr Hawtin’s parents, and while that was a short-term solution, the living situation had reached breaking point.

“It’s getting really, really stressful – there’s just too many people in one house,” Mr Hawtin said.

“It doesn’t help there’s four of us and the house we’re living in has another four people living under this one roof.”

The situation had become so bad that Mr Hawtin’s parents had considered mortgaging their own home to help pay for a new home for the family.

“It shouldn’t be up to my parents to buy us a house,” he said.

Mr Hawtin said he and his wife had pursued private, commercial and state housing, but to no avail.

The few houses that were available were either too small, too expensive or only available to rent short-term, he said.

“We’ve had no luck and it’s just getting to that stage – are we ever going to be able to find a property?

“The more we try, the harder it seems to be getting.”

Initially, the family met the criteria for a house with Housing New Zealand. However, the couple were only entitled to a two-bedroom home, which they said was too small.

Mr Hawtin believed a high demand for houses and expensive rentals were causing a housing shortage in Oamaru.

“I think there’s just too much demand. It’s very limited on what’s around.

“I think a lot of people are just buying them up as well.”

Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive of housing Scott Gallacher acknowledged there was a housing shortage in North Otago.

“Nationally, we have an issue of housing demand exceeding supply,” Mr Gallacher said.

“The Waitaki district is experiencing this too.”

Mr Gallacher believed the shortage of housing had driven up the prices of both rental and mortgage properties.

“More housing is needed to support the vulnerable in our community.

“We’re working to increase the number of public housing and transitional housing places.”

Mr Gallacher said there were 112 public houses and one transitional house in Oamaru.

While numbers on the housing register in Waitaki were low compared with other parts of the country, the register number had increased from seven to 18 earlier this year.

“Our priority is that all New Zealanders have access to somewhere warm, safe and dry to live,” Mr Gallacher said.

“We encourage anyone with a housing issue to talk to us as soon as possible.”