Fleas, stock market crash and cost of rent - hear the stories behind some of Auckland's 26,000 homeless

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A carpark in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga has become a drive-in for the homeless.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has fronted up over residents being forced to live life on the street or in cars.
Source: 1 NEWS

Over two nights, 1 NEWS went to several locations across the city where people had parked up last year and where social agencies knew of people now.

Over 26,000 people are classed as homeless in Auckland - here are some of their stories. 

Nowhere else to go

Charlie said he was sleeping in a shopping centre carpark in Onehunga because he was broke and had nowhere else to go.

The 60-year-old used to be a truck driver before his last flat got infested with fleas and he was forced to move out for health reasons.

Charlie said he had been in the carpark for six weeks waiting to be placed in a state house as the private rental market was too expensive.

A neighbouring van was sheltering a man who moved to New Zealand from the Pacific, fresh out of a long-term relationship.

The father of two is in full-time employment but said due to ongoing child support and debt payments, he could not afford to pay rent at the moment.

Dad and two sons live in a station wagon

Across town, another father is housing his two sons in a station wagon, where they spend most nights watching movies on a cellphone.

He said while he could afford to move into a house thanks to savings, he didn't want to pay thousands of dollars to secure a property when he did not have a job.

The family is considering a move south where the cost of living is cheaper and they'd get easier access to help.

WINZ too complicated says elderly woman who sleeps in her car

An elderly woman who used to work full-time before she retired said being homeless was just another chapter in her life.

She had owned her own house before she was forced to sell it due to a stock market crash. She now sleeps in the driver's seat of her Toyota, wrapped in a blanket, overlooking a duck pond.

She said she had never asked for help from the state before but when she turned up to Work and Income, the system was too complicated and so she walked away.

The woman said she has family but is too embarrassed to reach out.

Last winter, Bruce Pulman Park in Takanini was the place to bunk up but is now empty because Auckland Council has started locking the gates at night.

We need to be able to track whether we're resolving this problem or if the problem is getting bigger"
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Mayor's response

Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland is New Zealand's biggest and wealthiest city but it's struggling with "extreme homelessness".

Mr Goff announced the first region-wide count of people living without shelter today, saying there is little data on the size and nature of chronic homelessness.

Mr Goff said social and government agencies need to know what the scale of them problem is.

"We need to be able to track whether we're resolving this problem or if the problem is getting bigger and we're not putting sufficient resources into it," he said.

It's estimated that as many as 26,000 people are homeless in Auckland, including those in temporary accommodation with relatives or in unsuitable dwellings.

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