The Labour Party promised to reduce homelessness, boost state housing stock and build thousands of homes during its first term.

But with a record high waitlist for social housing and the creation of just under 600 of its promised 100,000 KiwiBuild houses ... how far has it got with some of its major policies?

DCM, an organisation that helps homeless people into housing, is tucked away on a side street behind Wellington's Courtenay Place.

Jackie, a mother of two adult children, is here for peer support, after a couple of hard years living in cars, garages and on couches.

"I was trying my very hardest to maintain being a mum, working full time, being a wife and a daughter. But when you're living rough, it makes things very, very hard."

The scars of that time remain.

"I was ashamed. I lied to my kids about us living in a car and a garage. I lied to them for over a year. I told them 'mum and dad are doing fine' because we were still working, still pretending to be the perfect family."

After living in a garage in Northland, she returned to Wellington for a fresh start and to be close to her two children. But she struggled to find a house.

"We just had no luck getting a rental property.

"We would go to open homes but there were lines, so many people, to the point where we wouldn't get the chance to put our name down."

The costs associated with a deposit, getting utilities set up and furniture were an added barrier.

After some time living in a car, she moved onto a family member's couch, which is when she connected with DCM.

She is housed now, thanks to DCM, and working through the aftershocks of living a precarious life.

"I'm so grateful. I don't really think I would be here in this peer support group if it wasn't for [DCM] housing.

"I think that is key to my confidence, to getting me back out there."

In 2017, the newly elected leader of the then opposition party, Jacinda Ardern, didn't waste time in grilling former Prime Minister Bill English on the housing crisis during question time.

"If not a crisis, how did his government get into a situation where it needs to spend 139K a day putting homeless people up in motels?," she asked.

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Housing Minister Megan Woods has defended the party's housing programme Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

After taking power, Labour committed to an initial $100 million to tackle homelessness.

But since then, the waitlist for social housing has ballooned to nearly 20,000 people.

DCM's director Stephanie McIntyre said that is, in part, because the true number of homeless people is no longer being hidden.

"Our experience previous to that, was that it was very easy for someone to get bounced off it and for them to disappear.

"There was a lot of smoke and mirrors around the way the housing list was managed under the previous government," she said.

A further $300 million in new funding was committed to tackle homelessness this year.

McIntyre praised both community groups and the government for their efforts in getting people into accommodation, especially over lockdown.

"We've had the most phenomenal movement from homeless into accommodation.

She was reluctant to say they were 'housed' because most were in emergency accommodation and not permanent homes.

But in the past month, the organisation has seen the biggest rise in offers of permanent flats.

June figures show the current government has built roughly 3000 state houses and created 1400 short-term accommodation places.

Just under 3000 state houses are being built.

McIntyre thinks this is all a good start.

"The indications are right in the homelessness action plan. But does it go far enough for me? Nothing usually does," she said.

"I would always like to see more emphasis but we feel like things are going in the right direction."


https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/election-2020/427216/labour-promised-big-on-housing-has-it-delivered