During this week, hundreds of intrepid volunteers have been out nocturnally scouring Auckland parks, bridge abutments, car parks, back alleys and city doorways.

They're trying to get a handle on the true numbers of genuinely homeless people sleeping rough around the Queen's City.

This won't include the additional legions with some sort of roof over their heads, but cooped up in garages, lean-tos or caravans, or whole families crammed into single bedrooms.

But it's a pity there isn't a simultaneous census being conducted on the true number of unoccupied houses in the same city environs.


At last estimate, they numbered over 30,000. Most seemed to belong to punters simply sitting on the property waiting for the capital valuation to ramp up, and who don't want bother with any tenanting complications.

Gosh, maybe there would be a correlation between the two sets of figures.

On top of this neat, but sorry, little equation is the equally sordid plight of the new plague on the block, the "working poor" – families with one or even two wage-earners who still struggle to cover the most basic expenses.

And guess what the single dominant factor behind this parlous situation is? Right-in-one – killer rents.

Rents that suck the lion's share out of whatever pay packets are coming into the house – and never mind incidentals like food, ever-increasing power bills, fuel costs, school uniforms et al.

And why this plethora of killer rents? Why, a housing market that was intentionally hot-housed until it is now rated the second most over-valued on the planet.

Wow, that's some achievement. Auckland must be feeling really proud of itself, with all that "growth" in the housing market.

But wait, there's more ...


The excess in the Auckland market has now bled and spread throughout the land, not only to the major metropolitans, but second-tier cities as well.

Now the Hamiltons and Taurangas are also squirting at the seams with over-priced housing/rent issues.

No wonder we've been in spectacular free-fall from previously having one of the highest home-ownership rates in the world. Most millennials have already thrown in the towel.

Chart the rise of the battalions of unhoused to the tipping point where residential dwellings became not just the basis for a secure family home but an investment opportunity – and a highly lucrative one at that.

How lovely for those with a foot already on the property ladder before prices ran amok.

Before too long, the out-of-control casino that is the American stock market will implode yet again.


This will of course rattle windows here, and a lot of over-leveraged Auckland property speculators will hightail it for the boats.

But for those skewered on the wrong end of the renters' market, this can't come quickly enough, given that the new government also lacks the intestinal fortitude to meaningfully correct the market any time soon with the likes of a capital gains tax, increased stamp duties, or non-occupancy penalties.

Unfortunately, a lot of middle-income earners who have taken out a mega-mortgage on a grossly over-valued house in recent years will also get burnt, much as many lay punters did who came late to the stockmarket prior to the 1987 crash in the hope of continuing windfalls.

The aftermath of '87 revealed just how shonky was the house of cards comprising much of the share market at the time. As a result many of those lay investors haven't touched a share since.

The inevitable American-led crash will not collapse the property market here but, aided by a contraction in Auckland population growth rates, it will deflate it to "true" levels, stripped of most of the artificial stimuli and hype that over-valued it in the first place.

This will be painful for some, but the benefit will hopefully be a return to a status quo where houses are homes for many, and not merely investment casino chips for a relative few.