Apply for public housing

How to apply for public housing and what will happen.

Step 1 - Call us

Call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 to apply for public housing.

If you get NZ Super or Veteran's Pension, call Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

Step 2 - We'll discuss your situation

We'll talk with you about your situation and look at ways we can help you. This includes checking what support you might be able to get to move into private housing, for example, help with rent or bond.

If we think you may qualify for public housing, we’ll book a housing assessment interview for you. This is usually done over the phone but you can come in and see us if you'd prefer.

Support person or interpreter

If you want a support person at your interview, you can organise to have one with you.

If you can't speak English, you can bring someone to interpret for you. Or we can find an interpreter for you, just let us know so we can organise this.

Need housing in next 7 days

If you have nowhere to live in the next 7 days, tell us so we can look at how we can help with emergency housing.

Step 3 - Attend an interview

The interview will take about an hour. We’ll:

  • talk with you about your situation and the type of housing you need
  • confirm you meet the criteria for public housing.

We'll also ask you to tell us at least 3 areas where you could live so you can be matched to a suitable property.

Documents you need to provide

We'll also ask you to gather some documents and drop them off to one of our service centres. We'll let you know what documents you need to get. These could be:

  • proof of who you are, such as your birth certificate, passport or driver licence
  • proof of any income (after tax) you've got in the last 52 weeks, such as wages, holiday pay, family tax credits and any other income
  • proof of any assets you have and their value
  • your business accounts, if you have your own business
  • trust documents, if you're involved in a trust, such as trust deed, deed of debt, gift statements, or accounts
  • full birth certificates for each dependent child in your care.

We may ask you to bring the same documents for other members of your household who are moving with you. Household members are people who permanently live with you.

Step 4 - Wait for a property

If you qualify for public housing, you’ll go on the social housing register. The register has details of people who need public housing and the type of property they need.

We'll pass the register onto housing providers who will let you know when a suitable property becomes available.

How long you have to wait

People with the greatest needs are placed first, when suitable properties become available. 

The length of time you have to wait for a property depends on:

  • how urgently you need one
  • how quickly a suitable property becomes available 
  • what your needs are
  • the number of other people waiting with urgent needs.

A suitable property is one that meets your housing needs as agreed during your interview. 

While you're waiting

While you’re waiting for public housing, you must let us know straight away if anything changes for you or your partner (if you have one) - such as income or your living situation. 

It’s also important to keep looking for other housing options, like rental properties in the private market. If you want help with this, you can call us on 0800 559 009.

Step 5 - Accept a public housing offer

If a housing provider makes you an offer for a property and the property suits your needs, you can accept the offer.

You and the provider will sign a tenancy agreement. The agreement sets out:

  • your rights and responsibilities
  • their rights and responsibilities.

If you don't accept the offer 

If an offer for a property comes up, you can choose not to accept it if you have a good reason, for example, there are stairs you find hard to climb because you've had a knee replacement.

If you don't accept the offer and don’t have a good reason, we'll check that you still have a serious and immediate housing need. If you don't, you may be taken off the social housing register.

If you reapply for public housing within 13 weeks, we'll look at your decision to decline the offer when checking if you meet the criteria.