'It's a crisis' says Mission

One of Auckland City's rough sleepers on Queen St. Photo / File
One of Auckland City's rough sleepers on Queen St. Photo / File

The homeless population of central Auckland is two-and-a-half times higher than it was three years ago, a new report says.

The Auckland City Street Count of Central Auckland has found 177 people were sleeping rough within 3km of the Sky Tower on a single night this year.

That's the most recorded since the count began in 2004, and is significantly higher than the 68 people counted in the same area in 2013.

At least 51 people weren't included in the count, because they had found temporary accommodation or were in hospital that night.

City Missioner Chris Farrelly said it could take months or even years for some people to access housing, and the longer someone slept rough the harder it was to transition to a normal life.

He has been overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion of Aucklanders, but the entire city will need to be involved in solving the crisis the city faces.

"New Zealanders do not want this to be the norm in our city," he said. "It's quite a shock, it is a crisis, and we have to turn it around."

Mr Farrelly said the mission's outreach support people came across people who had never had alcohol or drug issues before becoming homeless, but developed addictions as a way of coping with a life they were forced into.

"Homelessness is not a choice. It is a lack of options."

The survey also found more women sleeping rough compared with previous years, and the percentage of Maori had also increased.

This year, 45 women were sleeping rough, compared with 31 in the previous count. Maori rough sleepers increased from 42 per cent in 2014 to 53 per cent this year.

New Zealand Europeans increased from 30 to 33 per cent. Pacific Islanders comprised 9 per cent. The remainder were of unknown ethnicity.

NZH

- NZ Herald

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