The Salvation Army in Napier is asking people to sign up to be "homeless" or to sponsor someone during a national initiative - 14 Hours Homeless - next month.
14 Hours Homeless is a Salvation Army initiative, now in its third year, where the organisation partners with other agencies, businesses and individuals to raise awareness around homelessness, and funds to help those affected.
Organisers are calling on people, co-workers, friends and family, to seek sponsorship to spend 14 hours sleeping outside on cardboard or couches or in cars. The event is for those aged 18 and older.
"This is a fun and different way for community groups and work places to come together for a great cause," said Major Pam Waugh, head of the Salvation Army's Community Ministries.
"Last year, some of those taking part discovered cardboard gets damp overnight, but we were far more sheltered than the many New Zealanders for whom cramped and cold conditions are the sad norm."
University of Otago analysis of the 2013 census showed that 41,000 people (or 1 in 100) were living in severe housing deprivation. More than half were families with children.
Housing ranged from living rough or in emergency shelters, boarding houses and marae, to squeezing into over-crowded private housing, or living in housing still woefully short on basic amenities.
University research shows more than half of the country's housing deprived are adults working or studying, or both. More than half are under 25, and Pasifika people are 10 times more likely to be homeless than Europeans.
"14 Hours Homeless is a chance to build empathy for the one-in-100 Kiwis struggling to find suitable permanent housing and to signal to government that better solutions need to be found. It's also a chance to raise funds that will drive change in our communities."
The Salvation Army in Napier aims to raise $25,000 for five transitional housing units.
- For more information, and to sign up as a participant or sponsor, go to www.14hourshomeless.org.nz