Twins Charlotte and Rachel were taken from their family, separated and placed in state care as children. Seventeen years later they were on the streets and turned to the sex trade for money.
No longer wards of the state, they were unable to sign tenancy agreements and knew nothing of the family they had been removed from.
Their story is but one of hundreds told to a group of academic researchers who have spent years looking into homelessness in New Zealand.
At the time Charlotte and Rachel had been living on the streets for two months.
"[They] were engaging in sex work illegally, as minors, to earn money and food. These activities were bringing them into conflict with the judicial system as well as with established street sex workers."
The twins' story has been published for the first time as part of a book just published by Massey University Press that looks at the growing class system in New Zealand.
The 18 chapters that make up the book, titled: Precarity: Uncertain, Insecure and Unequal Lives in Aotearoa New Zealand, seeks to define those in the "precariat" and describes the struggle this working class group faced.
"They feel they are going nowhere in their jobs. They lack or are losing all forms of rights. In the process they are being reduced to depending on acts of discretionary charity," wrote British economist Guy Standing in the foreword.
Based on the latest census data the book's authors estimated one in six, or 606,000 people fit into this group struggling to find secure housing and earn a regular income: temporary employees, the jobless and beneficiaries.
One-third of these said their income was not enough to cover everyday needs, such as food and accommodation, contributing to the rise of homelessness.
The authors said those within this marginalised social class were among the most vulnerable - the elderly, disabled, homeless, students and refugees.
Co-author and Massey University professor of societal psychology, Darrin Hodgetts, said the stories within the book gave the lived experience of the country's burgeoning working class.
As well as the twins, the book detailed the story of Luke, 36, a Maori man who believed he was the unwanted product of his mother's assault.
"I do believe that's why my mother hates me," he told the researchers. "I have a clear memory of sitting behind a couch playing, listening to my mother and my father sitting there saying how much they hate me and how they wished I had never been born."
He turned to the streets at age 10, after years of being abused.
"I thought, how much worse can it be out on my own. If these two people that are supposed to love, nurture and look after me can't do it, then why the hell would anybody else out there take care of me?"
Hodgetts said the stories were reflective of many of the thousands living on New Zealand streets, or in insecure housing.
He applauded recent strategies such as Housing First, but he said not enough was being done to address the issues that led to people being in such vulnerable situations.
"They aren't going to stop people before they become homeless. It's ameliorative and helps those already homeless."
He said the current "renter economy" meant wealth amassed with those who already had it, while those at the other end struggled to make ends meet or were reliant on benefits.
"This wealth concentration drives homelessness. We can't just understand the actions of homeless people, but we also have to study people who are more affluent.
"I think we've got to say, who does the economy work for?
Hodgetts suggested a social dividend, or basic income, that could give people more security.
"These things are structural. [We] can't keep building more houses and think it will solve homelessness. Until we address poverty we aren't going to address homelessness."