A new report has revealed the extent of the "sharp and ugly end of homelessness" on Wellington's streets.

Almost 80 people have been identified as either without shelter, engaging in street begging or both.

The Downtown Community Ministry outreach report is the first of its kind for the city and has established a baseline for understanding the scale of visible homelessness in the capital.

During January and February of this year DCM's Street Outreach team visited 79 people on the streets.

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Almost three quarters of them were rough sleeping, although 18 per cent were doing so when accommodation was available.

Their ages ranged from 15 to 63. Maori and men were overrepresented in the data.

The report gives examples of people with known homelessness histories as long as six years.

They have been cycled through the likes of prison, night shelters, rough sleeping, couch surfing and temporary homeless accommodation.

DCM executive director Stephanie McIntyre said those spoken to on the street were willing to engage.

Downtown Community Ministry executive director Stephanie McIntyre says people have fallen between the cracks. Photo / Crispin Anderlini
Downtown Community Ministry executive director Stephanie McIntyre says people have fallen between the cracks. Photo / Crispin Anderlini

They wanted housing but were often on a waiting list and left with limited options in the meantime, she said.

"In many situations their history of homelessness is quite extensive so there really are people who've fallen between the cracks."

McIntyre expected the number of people sleeping rough or begging was higher than the 79 recorded in the report.

Wellington City Council has given DCM $476,000 per annum for a three-year contract to be used for tenancy sustainability and street outreach.

McIntyre said when the new outreach team was running at full capacity it would capture those on the street further afield rather than mainly focusing on the CBD.

Those who were sleeping rough when they had accommodation could be doing so for several reasons, she said.

Some have entrenched drug and alcohol addictions who could be temporarily banned from their accommodation because they've broken the rules there.

Some have trouble managing relationships within their accommodation.

Mayor Justin Lester says homelessness is among the biggest concerns for Wellingtonians. Photo / Georgina Campbell
Mayor Justin Lester says homelessness is among the biggest concerns for Wellingtonians. Photo / Georgina Campbell

Council's social development and housing portfolio leader councillor Brian Dawson said rough sleeping was the "sharp and ugly end of homelessness", which needed to be prioritised.

"The weather is starting to get a bit colder in Wellington, we're heading towards winter, this is not a great time of year to be living rough on the streets."

The government's Wellington Housing First initiative rollout is imminent and would help ease the city's homelessness problem, he said.

"That's the key to it, getting people not just off the streets and into something like a shelter or short term accommodation, but getting people into real homes for the long haul."

Homelessness was among the biggest concerns for Wellingtonians, mayor Justin Lester said.

Among other partnerships, Lester pointed to the proposal for Housing New Zealand to take a long-term lease of the city's Arlington complex as part of the solution.

Subject to public consultation, up to 300 homes would be developed on the Mt Cook site, which would include up to 40 supported living units for Wellington's most vulnerable homeless people.

Those units are effectively Lester's campaign promise of a wet house.

People living there would get 24-7 wraparound support but alcohol would not be banned.

"Even if you get them into the home, if it's just a regular tenancy, within three to six months there's a strong likelihood many of them are back on the streets because they haven't been supported."