A growing shanty town near the Central City Library has been removed by Auckland Council and police this morning.

Three council officers, accompanied by six police officers, cleared out the makeshift camp outside the old Senior College building on Lorne St.

One of the men staying at the site became abusive and swore at the council staff. The others took their belongings and moved on to new spots.

Council staff allowed the homeless group who had been living there to take what possessions they wanted, and the rest was taken away in a truck.

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The council warned last week that it planned to remove them before giving them a reprieve. The shanty town then grew over the weekend, angering some neighbouring businesses.

Gavin Halatau, 24, said he had been staying at the camp for up to two months.

He had chosen the spot because it was warm and sheltered, he said. After being moved on, he made his bed on the footpath on Wellesley St, where he said it was colder and more exposed to the weather.

Halatau said he had been living on the street for two and a half years. He was not sure if he was on a waiting list for social housing or any other housing programmes.

Asked how he felt to be moved on, he said: "Normal. We're used to this."

Police and council staff removing a makeshift camp on the corner of Lorne and Rutland streets in Auckland CBD. Photo / Peter Meecham
Police and council staff removing a makeshift camp on the corner of Lorne and Rutland streets in Auckland CBD. Photo / Peter Meecham

Auckland Council team manager compliance response Max Wilde said the group had a large amount of items such as furniture which was obstructing the footpath - in breach of public bylaws.

Its first step was to notify social services which worked with homeless people. It also advised the rough sleepers of the public bylaws to try to get them to comply, before considering removal.

Wilde said bylaws did not give council officers power to physically remove people, but it could ask people to move on if they were obstructing public property.

He said the council was strongly committed to addressing homelessness in the city and was working closely with the Government and NGOs to achieve this.

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The main response to homelessness is the Housing First programme, which places people straight into permanent homes rather than putting them in transitional shelters. Since the programme was established in May 2017, 964 homeless adults and children have been housed, mostly in private rentals.

While there is no regular survey of homeless numbers, a headcount in September found there were 800 people sleeping rough on Auckland's streets, and as many as 3000 using emergency or transitional shelters.