For Rotorua's Rodney Tonihi, homelessness is a choice.
"I've been on the streets since I was 10, I didn't want to stay home," he said.
Tonihi has been going to the Vision of a Helping Hand drop-in centre for about four months for breakfast and lunch and said he had learned a lot from living on the streets.
He said being homeless was part of a bigger picture for some people.
"Some habits are hard to break out of, this is what I see every day," Tonihi said.
"I believe there has to be an alcohol or drug programme so they [homeless] can get the help they need. Getting a home is one thing, getting addiction help is another thing.
"For me it's heartbreaking because I've been to that place before and it's disheartening."
Tonihi said he was content living on the streets and sleeping in the open.
"I'm in this situation because I love working with people on the street even though I'm not qualified. I have a big heart towards helping those less fortunate. Even with just a friend to talk to," he said.
"When you've got a bunch of people living on the street who come together, that's the strongest family bond I've seen."
Tonihi said programmes addressing addiction would help the homeless population of Rotorua, as would facilities with showers to improve hygiene.
He said homelessness should be redefined as helplessness.