Housing Minister says he's 'confident' homeless count in Rotorua can be replicated in national survey

The Government is working on a plan to conduct an annual count of New Zealand's homeless people, 1 NEWS has revealed.

Community groups in the Bay of Plenty town wanted to help those rough sleeping, stating with taking a count Source: 1 NEWS

As homelessness rises across the country, community groups in Rotorua have done a headcount in order to help those on the streets.

And those who help the homeless say an official national count is needed.

"It would be really important to have some rigour and consistency around the method," said Christine Hall, LinkPeople chief executive.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford is working on a homeless survey.  

"I'm confident we're going to come up with a system so that every year we update and actually count the number of people who are without shelter," Mr Twyford said.

When community groups recently surveyed how many rough sleepers were in Rotorua on one night, they found 48.

Most of them had been on the streets less than a year, although one had been living rough for 17 years.

Haehaetu Barrett of Lifewise Rotorua said not have the numbers increased, "but the look of homelessness has increased. So we've got families now, young people, we've got elderly out on our streets".

Another homeless count will be done in Rotorua in June, because once winter hits, people from around the country flock there, due to the geothermal activity making the ground warm.

"It's sad. And for the people that do come in, it's about how do we as a community embrace that as well," Ms Barrett said.

Ms Hall, meanwhile, has a message for the Government as it works towards counting the homeless.

"I really think that we should be focused on preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place."