Plans for a new housing and community complex have been a long time coming for those who have lived a life on Auckland's city streets.

Kat'z, 43, was "ecstatic" at the Government's pledge to put $27 million towards the project which would see 80 new studio and one-bedroom units built on the Auckland City Mission's current site.

She knows all too well the reality of homelessness having spent almost 30 years on the streets before moving into a one-bedroom apartment a little over a year ago.

Kat'z, who spoke to the Prime Minister after the announcement, said the project was something her street family had spent many years waiting for.


"It's about time. I have been waiting since 2004, like 13 years we have been working on this project and along the way we have been discouraged a lot.

"There are a lot of people waiting for this, for 10 or 15 years ... some have passed already."

The last street count, in 2016, found 177 were sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower. Anecdotal evidence indicates there are many more around the wider city, with one Otago University Study putting the nationwide count at 41,200.

The newly announced multi-million dollar complex would see many of the homeless housed and offer additional services on site, through a health centre and detox facility and would have a community cafe, roof-top garden and other community facilities.

The mission and wider community would top up the Government investment by funding the rest of the $75m project.

Kat'z said if the complex had been built during her time on the streets, she would have been one of the first to put her hand up.

Meanwhile as they waited, over the past decade homelessness had grown.

"I just think if they had come a lot quicker, maybe it [homelessness] wouldn't be as chronic as it has been today."


Kat'z, who now worked as a peer support worker with others still living on the streets, said she knew many who would benefit from the new complex.

"There are new chronic homeless all the time. There's the old people, we got kids on the streets having kids, older generations that have kids, that still have the babies attached to them, that kind of thing."

Known on the streets as "Mamma Kat", a nickname no doubt earned by her readiness to dole out a hug or stern word as needed, she said the plans were no "quick fix" but it would help.

"Having a home will give people who have been sleeping rough a reason to live - and look toward a future."

Kat'z speaking to Bill English at this morning's announcement. Photo / Supplied
Kat'z speaking to Bill English at this morning's announcement. Photo / Supplied

She said the ability to have the homelessness living in the same place, with social support and health services on site, would help ease the loneliness many felt leaving behind their street family.

"It will address loneliness, having a reason to live you know? Getting through the day.

"For the homeless it's a bonus to get through one day, living in a house by yourself, being home alone, when your friends are out there on the street."

Skeeter, who spent years sleeping rough outside the Auckland Public Library, spoke to NZ Herald Focus today after the announcement. He said the project had the potential to help him and many of his mates still living on the streets.

"Hell, well that's brilliant. Nah it is. A lot of the guys on the streets are there for their own reasons. If the Government's going to do that for the mission ... gonna be a great thing."

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly hoped building on the eight-story block that would be designed by Stevens Lawson architects would begin mid-next year and the centre be ready by mid-2020.

Where the centre would go in the meantime, was a question that was as yet, unsolved.

"We now have to look for temporary accommodation in the inner city for two years. We haven't got a place yet, it's essential it is in the inner city, that's where our client group is."

Farrelly hoped the community would come forward and support the project.

"We have been asked by the community to do something better for the homeless ... the Auckland City Mission belongs to Auckland and we have always felt we are the hand of the community.

"This is an opportunity to really build something iconic that will demonstrate that we really care."