Preliminary calculations based on the tally conducted last month point to about 800 people living without shelter in NZ’s biggest city.
Initial results from Ira Mata, Ira Tangata: Auckland’s Homeless Count have this afternoon been published. The first region-wide “point in time” survey estimated that 800 people are living without shelter – a figure extrapolated from a total count on the night of 336 people.
The Spinoff joined the 600-odd volunteers in taking part in the Homeless Count. Read Toby Manhire’s account here
The count, organisers stressed, was not a comprehensive account of homelessness in the region but a “snapshot of the minimum number of people experiencing unsheltered (sleeping on the street or in cars) and temporary homelessness at one point in time”.
“On 17 September, volunteers counted 336 people living without shelter. 179 people were sleeping rough and 157 were sleeping in cars. All these people were adults,” said Fiona Hamilton, programme manager for Housing First Auckland, the collective of organisations that oversaw the operation, in a statement.
“Following a validation exercise of this result we know that this number represents approximately 40% of people living without shelter in Auckland on that night. Therefore, based on the street count, it is estimated there were approximately 800 people in unsheltered homelessness on 17 September 2018.”
The “validation exercise” was overseen by Dr Nevil Pierse an Otago University statistician and co-leader of He Kainga Oranga Healthy Housing Research Programme. It drew on data from government and accommodation providers. It was required because of a range of factors “including things like people not wanting to be found and that safety protocols for volunteers mean they are advised not to enter areas such as abandoned buildings, for example”, said Hamilton.
Results from the count, combined with information from housing providers and government agencies, suggested that 2,874 people were living in “temporary accommodation” across greater Auckland, said Hamilton. Of those, 1,299 were children.
That information did not include people living in over-crowded homes, couch-surfing or people living in camping grounds or boarding houses.
“Ira Mata, Ira Tangata has given Auckland the opportunity to quantify the minimum size and scale of unsheltered and temporary homelessness. However, this was not an academic exercise. Ultimately this count was about people, gathering this information to assign better support and helping our communities take another step forward in ending homelessness in Auckland so that it is rare, brief and non-recurring,” said Hamilton.
The data would “inform policy and services that will help us solve this pressing issue”, said Auckland mayor Phil Goff in a statement.
“800 people sleeping rough in Auckland is 800 too many. Add to that another 2,874 in temporary or emergency accommodation and we’re looking at thousands of adults and children without a safe, secure, warm home to live in.
“The reasons for a person becoming homeless are complex. Further results from the count in December will provide greater detail as to how people have come to live without shelter. The Homeless Count will significantly improve our understanding of the shape and scale of homelessness in Auckland and ensure effective services can help get people off the street, out of cars and into homes.”
Almost 600 volunteers embarked on the count, meaning there were almost two volunteers for every homeless person tallied.
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