Auckland is gearing up to count its homeless population for the first time.
Tonight, hundreds of volunteers will walk the city's streets to find those who are living without permanent shelter in an attempt to resource the problem.
"We need to know why people are out on the street and what the nature of those people are. Once we've got that information then we can make steps towards solving the problem," Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told 1 NEWS.
Doctor Kate Amore from Otago University has been looking at homelessness for two decades.
She says while the census gives a snapshot of the problem many people don't get counted.
"We know the main cause is the mis-match between affordability and people's income. We know if there was a plentiful supply of affordable housing we wouldn't have a homeless problem," Dr Amore says.
Her research shows half of those who are homeless are under the age of 25.
"Half of homeless adults are working studying or both and I think it used to be in the old days the stereotype of a homeless person was an alcoholic middle-aged man on the street.
"But I think in the last few years that picture has definitely changed in New Zealand," Dr Amore says.
The Government's Housing First programme has funding to take almost 600 people off the streets in Auckland including children.