Homeless shelters in Auckland are rushing to find motel rooms for rough sleepers because they are at a high risk of catching the coronavirus.
People living on the street were fearful about contracting Covid-19 because it was harder for them to self-isolate and they were likely to have chronic health problems.
"It's really tough," said Zoe Truell, who works for Lifewise.
"People are really scared, freaked out that everything is closing down, that they will be stuck on the street.
"We had a family with a toddler who had tried to self-isolate by camping for eight weeks, out in the wilderness. But they are desperate now, they need a place."
The Ministry of Social Development is scouring the city for spare motel rooms and organisations such as Lifewise and the Auckland City Mission are filling them with rough sleepers, with first priority to over-70s and people with health problems.
Truell said Lifewise was able to place 15 high-risk people in motels this morning, and the Auckland City Mission was able to house another 10 rough sleepers. But they were struggling to keep up with demand.
"It's really tough turning people away. We're telling people to come back tomorrow. Our team is completely at its limit."
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The outbreak has created unique challenges for shelters and charities, which are trying to help the most vulnerable people in the population while also trying to protect staff from infection and follow isolation and lockdown guidelines.
"It's stressful for the workers too," said Truell.
"It's hard to see people who need so much and have so little. It's hard to see people who are frightened and we are unable to house. We've used up all our phones that we've given people. Used up all our food stocks. There are so many challenges.
"We have one van and we are moving people one at a time. A driver in the front and the person being transported to a motel in the back. We are making many, many, many trips.
"But we are committed. We will continue after lockdown, we will work every day to provide support and get people into accommodation."
Auckland City Mission has been forced to cancel its daily free meals for around 300 people because of the risks of having a large crowd indoors. It is instead running a takeaway food service, which will be available between 11am and 1pm.
Because the City Mission's kitchen staff are volunteers who have gone into self-isolation, the food was being prepared in Auckland Council's kitchen nearby by council staff.
Auckland City Mission CEO Chris Farrelly said the medical centre would stay open and emergency food parcels would still be distributed. Demand for the food parcels was soaring, in particular from low-paid or casual workers who had lost their job and not received any redundancy payments.
A facility was also being created by the city mission to allow up to 10 rough sleepers to self-isolate during the lockdown.
"My hope would be that we can get those sleeping outdoors indoors, especially as we come into winter," Farrelly said.
"It is a risk community. They are compromised from a health perspective and many are living outdoors, many are living in very compromised situations, overcrowding or in boarding houses where there are no living facilities or that have common facilities."
Some smaller shelters are defying orders to close down.
Debbie Munroe, who runs Waka of Caring in Manurewa, said she wanted to keep her drop-in centre open but has been told by police to close tonight.
"They turned up yesterday stating that if we stay open they'll close us down and probably arrest us. But we are not prepared to shut down. We are going to stand our ground."
The makeshift centre opened four months ago and feeds, clothes and provides a temporary retreat for around 135 people a day.
Munroe said it had capacity to sleep around 10 people a night while following physical distancing guidelines.
"We just want to keep everyone safe."
Outreach teams for the shelters told the Herald of the difficulties of directing homeless people to follow the guidelines about physical distance. Some needed to huddle closer to others for warmth, especially at night, and found it upsetting to be told they had to sleep two metres apart.
A headcount in Auckland in 2018 found there were around 800 people sleeping on the street.