Auckland's former deputy mayor says housing the homeless this winter is more important than low rates.

Newstalk ZB has identified a dozen sites around Auckland where "villages" of people are regularly living in cars, tents, trees and huts.

We are not specifying the locations to protect the privacy of the individuals living there, but at most sites around half the inhabitants living at them are young people, and more than half are in the city's western suburbs.

Waitakere councillor Penny Hulse said the city should be aiming for a winter in which no one has to live outside.

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She said she was concerned funding for social services and housing could be cut, so councillors can cap rates rises at 2 to 2.5%.

"We need to look very carefully at whether we need tax cuts and rates cuts, while all the time there are people living in doorways."

Newstalk ZB's findings come as a new Salvation Army report finds the housing shortage is worse than it was a year ago.

New housing consents in Auckland have reached a 12-year- high, and the Government is spending an extra $300 million on emergency housing.

But social policy director Ian Hutson said the gap between supply and demand is still growing.

"Across the country the housing shortage got worse and housing became more unaffordable for people.

"This can't continue. Housing policy needs to provide a sufficient supply of affordable houses."

Ms Hulse is also pleading with the city's homeless young people to ask for help before winter sets in.

She said the city faces a critical housing shortage, but there are agencies who can help and people shouldn't lose hope.

"We cannot be having our young people living out in the open without a safe roof over their heads."

Ms Hulse says most people who approach Lifewise and Salvation Army for help find somewhere to stay.

Colonel Hutson said entrenched child and youth poverty has become the new norm.

"Politicians must stop just voicing sympathetic rhetoric and actually take real action to reduce child poverty numbers."