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How to access social housing

The goal of social housing is to help connect New Zealanders in need with quality and affordable housing. Although demand is high, it’s possible to achieve a great outcome for you and your family.


Who can get social housing?

To be eligible for social housing you must:

  • Be 16 or older
  • Meet the income and asset test
  • Have a serious and immediate housing need
  • Be ordinarily resident in New Zealand, and
  • Be a New Zealand citizen, or a permanent resident in New Zealand. If you have been a permanent resident in NZ for less than two years you may qualify if you are getting a main benefit.

How to apply

The first step towards getting social housing is to make an appointment at your local Work & Income office. You and your WINZ worker will discuss your situation and look at the best way to help. Once they have determined that you meet the needs of social housing they will arrange an assessment interview for you.


What you’ll need

Work & Income will need information from you to confirm your identity. They will ask you for:

  • Proof of who you are, for example, your birth certificate, passport or driver’s licence.
  • Proof of your income for up to four weeks before your application, for example, wages, holiday pay and any other income. (If you’re on a benefit, they will be able to access your income details for you).
  • Proof of your assets and their value
  • Full birth certificate for each dependent child in your care
  • A record of properties that you’ve enquired about but haven’t managed to secure as a place to live

Assessment interview

After the first meeting you will be referred for an assessment interview. This is a meeting between you and a staff member from the Ministry of Social Development. The interview will take about an hour and you can take a support person along to the meeting with you. If you can’t come to this interview, it can be done over the phone.

You will need to tell them about you and your family’s housing needs and your current living situation. They’ll also want to know the areas you want to live in (at least three) so you can be matched to a suitable property. If you’re assessed as qualifying for social housing you will go on the social housing register (commonly known as the Housing NZ waitlist).


The social housing register

How long you’re on the social housing register or waitlist depends on a few factors:

  • How quickly a house becomes available
  • The type and size of the house you need
  • How many other people are waiting for a house

It may be a while before you get a house offer so you will need to keep looking for somewhere else to live while you are waiting.

It is important that you keep MSD updated with your current contact information and stay in regular contact while you wait. Answer all letters and calls; if they can’t get in touch with you, they may think you no longer need a house and close your case. If you don’t have a phone you can get a support worker to act on your behalf and MSD will contact them instead of you.


More information

If you want more information you can visit www.housing.msd.govt.nz or call:

Work and Income 0800 559 009
Work and Income Senior Services 0800 552 002
Study Link (if you’re a student) 0800 88 99 00

If you are deaf you can contact us on:

Deaf Link free-fax 0800 621 621
Telephone typewriter (TTY) 0800 111 113
Text 029 286 7170
Email: MSD_Deaf_Services@msd.govt.nz

If you are with Youth Service ask your Youth Service provider.