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More homeless people sleeping in cars

People working with the homeless report a rising number sleeping in cars or campervans to avoid rising rents.

They're among an estimated 15,000 in Auckland sleeping rough in overcrowded garages or couch surfing.

ONE News spoke to one such man, living alone in his SUV. The man, Richie, doesn't want himself or his car identified because his car is his home.

"I sit in here, try to make myself as comfortable as possible," he says, speaking in his car.

In quiet carparks across the country, heat seeking has become a priority.

"This is a real top quality sheet and I wrap up to trap all my body heat," Richie says as he rugs up.

"You've got to think about your safety when you're parked up somewhere in your car. Someone can come up and smash your windows and do serious damage," he adds.

Emergency housing providers say there's a growing number of people living in cars and caravans in inner cities.

"I found that paying the rent was too expensive," Richie says.

He is one of around 150 people thought to be living in the streets of central Auckland. He's grateful to at least have a car.

"I consider myself to be very fortunate. At least I have something to keep me warm at night time, you know."

They're predominately single men who have been turned away from emergency housing in favour of families and women. Some are going through marriage break ups, there are students, some are holding down jobs. Many say they've been forced out of their homes by rising rents.

The Auckland City Mission outreach team keeps an eye on the increasing number of homeless in the city.

"There's things around alcohol and drug issues, mental health. There's a number of issues going on in that person's life," says Charlotte Ama of Homeless Outreach and Support Services.

"And until the outreach team engages we can support them to access the appropriate services."

Asked what would make his life better, Richie says: "A financial miracle. That would be really nice you know."

For now though, a car, a sheet and a friendly face from the city mission are the small miracles that keep Richie going.

People working with the homeless report a rising number sleeping in cars or campervans to avoid rising rents. Source: 1 NEWS


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