City Mission says desperate shortage of affordable homes mainly to blame for rise in homeless.

The number of people sleeping rough in Auckland's streets and parks has more than doubled as the city's housing crisis deepens.

A City Mission count on October 19 last year found 147 people sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower - up 116 per cent from a count of 68 in 2013.

Although most were men, the count found a dramatic increase in women sleeping rough - up from just seven in 2012 to 31 this time, or 21 per cent of the total.

City Missioner Diane Robertson said the main reason was a desperate shortage of affordable accommodation.


"Quite frankly there just isn't enough accommodation and at the end of the day we can't get people into emergency accommodation," she said. "Places like Monte Cecilia [emergency housing] can't get people out, so there is no 'in' because there is no 'out'."

Monte Cecilia Trust executive David Zussman said even many families with priority A social housing rating, which means "immediate need for action", could not get social housing in Auckland.

The national priority A waiting list was below 450 for at least a decade up to 2012, but ballooned to 1077 by the end of that year and reached 2810 last September.

City Mission crisis care manager Wilf Holt said another factor was the Government's welfare reforms, which had made it much harder to get benefits unless you proved you were seeking work.

"If you have [doctor's] certificates and all that, it's fine. If you haven't, you are out on the road," he said.

"You have Work and Income insisting that people get budgeting before you give them food. You are doing budgets for people who have got $30 or $45 for food after they have paid their rent."

Other factors included boarding houses forced to close because of escalating property values and redevelopments, growing numbers of unemployed young people, and a gradual improvement in social workers' knowledge since the first street count in 2004.

The latest survey found most rough sleepers are young adults. There were 14 teenagers, 25 in their twenties, 33 in their thirties, 15 in their forties and 29 aged over 50.


Just over half of those whose ethnicity could be identified were Maori (63), with 45 Europeans, 10 Pacific and three of other ethnicities.

As well as 147 rough sleepers, the survey classed an additional 25 people as "secondary homeless" including 10 in emergency accommodation, 10 in hospital, three in addiction "detox" and two in police cells.

A further six homeless people, not counted in the figures, were found sleeping in cars, and one middle-aged woman was sleeping in her wheelchair near the hospital.

Seven years on streets

Aucklander Daniel has been wait-listed for a house since last winter. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Daniel started living on the streets soon after his wife died about seven years ago.

The 39-year-old was a welder in Palmerston North and, with his wife, had raised his younger sisters. But after she became ill and died he "kind of lost the plot".

"All the vultures started circling, saying, 'She said I could have this', 'She said I could have that'.

"I told everybody I was going to Christchurch. Instead I came [to Auckland]."

He found work within two days because he was good at his job. But it was 2008 and the metal fabrication industry was reeling in the global financial crisis. He was "last on, first off". He found another job, but was laid off again because "the workforce had to be halved".

He had been boarding with an elderly Christian couple, but when he lost his job he left. "I didn't want to leech off them, so I came into town. I got on the works [alcohol and drugs], spent all my money, saw some guys across the road and asked them for a light and sat down next to them."

He is still looking for work and housing and has been on the social housing waiting list since last winter.