Auckland’s rough sleeper population reaches record high
7th June 2016
AUCKLAND CITY MISSION MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
200 and counting – Central Auckland’s rough sleeper population reaches record high
Final figures have just been released following the 2016 Auckland City Street Count of Central Auckland’s rough sleepers, with this year’s total topping 200 for the first time since the Count started in 2004.
This year’s Count found 177 people sleeping rough within a three-kilometre radius of the Sky Tower. A further 51 people who might otherwise have slept rough were located in temporary accommodation at James Liston Hostel, or were listed as patients at Auckland Hospital, Te Whetu Tawera and Starship Hospital.
“The combined figures show that at least 228 people can be said to have been homeless in the CBD on the night of the count – and there is every likelihood that there were others who weren’t identified,” says Auckland City Missioner, Chris Farrelly. “The last Count, conducted at the end of 2014, found 147 people sleeping rough – and that was the first time the total had broken 100.”
The results are released as Mr Farrelly enters his first full week as the organisation’s Missioner, following the departure of Dame Diane Robertson. Mr Farrelly says the figure stands as further evidence that not only is Auckland experiencing a housing crisis, but that those living at the furthest extremes of poverty are suffering the most.
“It can take months – even years – for some of these people to access housing and the longer someone sleeps rough, the harder it can be to transition into living a normal life,” he says. “The Mission’s Homeless Outreach and Support Services Team come across people who have never had issues with drugs or alcohol before becoming homeless, who develop addictions as a way of coping with the life they are forced into. Homelessness, simply put, is not a choice. It is a lack of options.”
Aside from the record high number of rough sleepers overall, more women were identified as sleeping rough compared with previous years and the percentage of Maori had also increased.
This year’s Street Count found 45 women sleeping rough this year, compared with 31 in the previous Count. Rough sleepers identified as Maori increased from 42% in 2014 to 53%, with Europeans comprising 33% (up from 30% previously) and Pacific Islanders making up a further 9%. The rest were largely of unknown ethnicity.
The 2016 Auckland City Street Count was conducted by the Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative and included 31 staff and volunteers from four CBD-based NGO’s, including the Auckland City Mission, Lifewise, James Liston Hostel and the New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective, as well as Council and central government organisations that have knowledge of or interest in rough sleepers.