New Zealand’s largest homeless count has revealed approximately 800 people in Auckland are sleeping on the streets or in their cars.
The official count, run by Housing First Collective and Auckland Council, took place on September 17. That night, more than 660 volunteers counted 179 adults sleeping on the city’s streets and another 157 sleeping in their cars, Newshub reports.
Otago University statistician Dr Nevil Pierse guided the exercise and estimated that number only represented about 40 percent of the total number of homeless people in Auckland. That means roughly 800 people are currently homeless, and a further 2974 people, including 1299 children, are in transitional or emergency housing.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who took part in the count, said the results were “800 too many” but emphasised how the exercise was a way to "end homelessness, not just manage it".
"Measuring the extent of homelessness in Auckland gives us the data we need to inform policy and services that will help solve this pressing issue."
Housing First project manager Fiona Hamilton said the initiative was not a comprehensive illustration of the complete scale of homelessness in Auckland, but it did provide a snapshot of the minimum amount of people experiencing this issue.
She said the information would be used to guide resourcing for local and central government as well as housing services. It would also provide a baseline measurement to compare changes in homelessness over time.
“Our understanding is that one of the first actions will be using this information to inform the regional, cross-sectoral homeless plan for Auckland, which Auckland Council is leading the development of.”
There will be a follow up count in December which will aim to provide more detail on how people became homeless.