Central city workers on their way to Christmas parties are set to get an eye-opening, first-hand experience of homelessness.

The House of Cars installation opened in Wyndham Quarter yesterday. A shipping container covered in 2000 car parts, its interior aims to give an immersive experience of what it is like to live in a car.

Inside the container is the interior of a vehicle with toys and children's clothes stuffed into doors, makeshift curtains and a soundtrack of a baby crying, traffic noises, and rough sleepers telling their stories.

Its creators - community housing group Lifewise and ad agency DDB - placed the installation in the heart of the business centre to target wealthier Aucklanders and company directors.


"Much of the foot traffic across the installation period is expected to be executives on their way to Christmas parties and it's hoped the House of Cars will give them compelling food for thought," Lifewise said.

It is part of a campaign to encourage Auckland landlords to rent their homes to rough sleepers.

Lifewise, as part of Auckland's Housing First collective, has placed 792 homeless people in permanent homes since March last year - 90 per cent of them in private rentals.

"We get really good support from private landlords," said Lifewise chief executive Moira Lawler.

"You might be surprised by that, but it's the best deal in town. They're guaranteed 52 weeks' rent, we'll deal with any maintenance, and if something goes wrong we'll sort it."

More landlords are needed because Lifewise is aiming to house another 100 homeless next year. It hopes to sign up 60 landlords by Christmas.

Lawler said recruiting landlords sometimes meant breaking down the stigma around homeless people.

"There is a myth that all homeless are older, alcoholic men, which is by no means true. There is a really pervasive myth that people choose to be homeless, which is also not true.

"And there is increasingly a feeling, or a norm, in cities like Auckland that there will always be people who are homeless. That's also not true - there are cities that have dealt with the issue quite effectively."

Janine McCormick, operations manager at LJ Hooker's Ponsonby branch, has housed nine rough sleepers. It had been a positive experience, with only minor problems which come with many tenancies, she said.

"They've not been in a house for a long time. And when they're in a housing complex, they don't realise that having the music on at 1am in the morning is necessarily a great idea."

There were also some problems with loneliness, as rough sleepers were used to having company.

"But . . . seeing these people develop from when they first get in - they're genuinely very happy and very thankful to get a home."

House of Cars is outside the ANZ Events Centre at Auckland's Wynyard Quarter from December 7 to 19, midday to 9pm. For more details, see www.thehouseofcars.co.nz