For one 17-year-old living rough on West Auckland streets, snuggling up to her boyfriend was the one way she kept warm at night.

She had little choice over where to stay, now that she was too old to be under the Child, Youth and Family Service's care.

"I can't go home as it's unsafe," she said. "I have no income; I have nowhere else to go."

The teenager was one of 19 interviewed for a Salvation Army report looking at the life of those sleeping rough in West Auckland.


In the report, Hard Times, the interviewees reported sleeping in a number of different spots - a van, the streets, a tent, a bowling green, under a building, on a bridge, in a carpark, even a local McDonald's.

Report author Reina Harris said although the sample size of the report was too small to be conclusive, it still gave a good overview of the common issues faced by those living on the streets.

She believed there were 40 to 50 people doing so in West Auckland - the area where the second-highest number of people was recorded to be on the Ministry of Social Development's social housing wait-list.

Issues identified were the high cost of accommodation, leaving little money for much else, physical and mental health issues, limited social connections with family and friends and poor interactions with police.

While many reported being "happy" living on the streets, Ms Harris said, if they had a choice, they would be in accommodation.

"They really want to get off the streets, but there is no clear pathway out of it," she said.

Most expressed a desire for simple accommodation such as a garage, a small flat or just "somewhere, anywhere".

However, with no emergency housing in the area and limited options for cheap, permanent accommodation, most were forced to continue living on the streets.

Ms Harris proposed more social housing for the aged and the single, alongside dedicated support workers, and said a more supportive police force was needed.

"These people are extra vulnerable, they have had a complex life, it's going to be difficult for them," she said.

"They need someone there who can deal with each person on a case-by-case basis and offer culturally appropriate supports."