It's becoming clear there are growing numbers of people in Tauranga without homes.

Many are the "hidden homeless" - the people who sleep in their cars in a quiet park or jump from couch to couch never knowing where they're staying next.

They may come to the attention of social agencies in their hunt for a regular abode, but the average Joe Bloggs is unlikely to be aware of their dilemma.

But another kind of homeless person is becoming more visible in Tauranga - the streeties.


They're the ones you walk past in town, maybe giving you a twinge of guilt as you avert your eyes and continue on your way.

Many of these streeties are in genuine need. They're in a deep, dark hole and can't find their way out.

It's these people I feel sympathy for.

They need all the love and care they can get to ease the problems they're facing and, one day, they might be helped out of that dark place to once again become a functioning member of society.

Then there are the hustlers - the people who pretend to be worse off than they actually are for financial gain.

They're the ones who beg a dollar for a bus they don't intend to catch or for a pie they don't intend to buy.

Others, as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times today, have been intimidating people into giving them cash.

They have no shame in harassing kind-hearted people about their daily business and, when they're caught out in their scam, these kind-heartened people feel ripped off and will be less likely to lend a helping hand in future.

It's these hustlers that are ruining it for the genuinely needy, making people suspicious of anyone who reaches their hand out for change.

One day, people will get wise to their behaviour and may stop giving altogether.

The sad thing is, they're not the ones who will suffer for it.