Hundreds of Hawke's Bay children are homeless, according to a new report.
More than 1400 people were homeless in Hawke's Bay in 2013, according to the University of Otago report called Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/ New Zealand 2001-2013.
Limitless Hope co-founder Kiri Swannell thought the problem had become even worse since the data was collected.
The homeless - or severely housing deprived - population includes people living in "severely inadequate housing", such as shelters, crowded homes or houses without proper amenities.
The report revealed more than a quarter of Hawke's Bay's homeless were aged under 15 and more than half under 25.
Mrs Swannell said she sometimes dealt with two or three families a week. Those families were often sleeping in cars, with nowhere to go.
"It's causing mental health issues, depression. A huge issue is children playing up in schools because they're unsettled."
Mrs Swannell said some of the homeless had bad credit ratings or had large families who landlords wouldn't take on.
"We've also had businessmen and businesswomen sleeping in cars as well ... things have just happened in their world," said Mrs Swannell.
Limitless Hope feeds the homeless each week to build relationships. It also deals with Work and Income and Housing New Zealand and networks with local motel owners to help homeless.
Mrs Swannell said many motels and backpackers in the area were not letting locals in because they thought it changed the dynamic of their business.
She said Limitless Hope had housed more than 90 people, including children, over the past 10 months.
There was now more awareness about the reality of the homelessness issue, particularly among city councillors.
"Like I said to them, 'If something's not done now ... the future generation are going to be raised in cars and tents and that's going to be the normal'."
She said more housing was needed and information to help the homeless should be more accessible. Mental health workers and counsellors needed to get on board.
"It's not even just a matter of putting a roof over people's head. The damage actually has been done."
Nationally, the prevalence of homelessness grew 15 per cent between the 2006-2013 censuses, compared with a 9 per cent increase between 2001-2006.
In 2013, there were at least 41,000 homeless New Zealanders, or about one in every 100 New Zealanders.
More than half of homeless adults were working, studying, or both. More than half of the homeless population were younger than 25.
People identifying in Pacific, Maori or Asian groups were over-represented.
Migrants, especially new migrants, were at particular risk, according to the report.
Census data and administrative data from emergency accommodation providers were used to measure severe housing deprivation.