Housing and Food


Social housing is cheaper, subsidised rental accommodation provided by the government agency Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) or community housing providers.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) assesses whether people qualify for social housing. Some websites say that only permanent residents and citizens can apply for social housing. This would only include quota refugees and those Convention refugees who have permanent residence. However, the MSD website states that anyone receiving a main benefit, which includes an Emergency Benefit, qualifies for social housing. This means asylum seekers and Convention refugees who are not permanent residents have also been able to apply for social housing.

This online Community Law manual describes the process to apply for social housing. To find out if you qualify for government-subsidised social housing, contact Work and Income on 0800 559 009. The first step will be an initial screening assessment, which may be done over the phone. Someone from MSD will ask you questions about your housing needs, your current living arrangements, your weekly income and so on. If they find you meet the qualifying criteria, you’ll next have a full needs assessment (usually face to face). This is to decide how high your housing need is and where you’ll be on the social housing waiting list.

There is a long waiting list for social housing provided by Kāinga Ora. However, once you are on the social housing wait list, you can also be referred to community housing providers, who might have housing available more quickly. Examples of community housing providers who house asylum seekers and refugees (including those who are not permanent residents) are: Compass Housing, CORT Housing, and Vision West.

Limited short-term accommodation in Auckland is available through the Asylum Seekers’ Support Trust (ASST) This is for people who have an asylum claim in process who are in urgent need of shelter. ASST is Rainbow-friendly but the hostel accommodation usually involves sharing rooms with other asylum seekers. There is a big demand for this service. If there is no room available, ASST can discuss what other options are available, and help you to find somewhere to stay. 

RainbowYOUTH does not have any accommodation but works in partnership with other organisations and communities to support queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex young people who are at risk of, or who are experiencing, homelessness. Their homelessness support worker is based in Auckland and can help Rainbow asylum seekers and refugees try to find emergency accommodation. 

You can join these Facebook pages to look for Rainbow-friendly rooms or flats.  


This is a list of food banks all over Aotearoa New Zealand where you can get a food parcel. Most are free and you can often turn up without needing a referral.

Some food banks ask you to provide photo ID, a letter from WINZ saying they have declined your request for a Special Needs Grant, details of any WINZ benefit you receive, and a recent bank statement. Contact Rainbow Path or ASST to discuss what to do if you can’t get all these documents or if your photo ID is not accepted because it no longer matches how you look.

The Āwhina website has information about cheap eats, free meals and help with food parcels in Auckland, including ASST’s food parcels for asylum seekers.

Everybody Eats creates regular three-course community meals where people pay as little or as much as they can afford. They have four locations, two in Auckland, one in Tauranga and one in Wellington. Over public holidays, check their Facebook page to see if they are open.

ASST holds a community meal every Friday evening from 6pm at their office/hostel in Auckland.

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