One of the worst impacts of the Auckland housing crisis has been the significant increase in homelessness. This includes people sleeping on the streets and in cars but can also be described in other ways.
Stats NZ defines the state of homelessness as a living situation where people, with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing, are:
- without shelter – for example, sleeping rough or living in a car
- living in temporary or emergency accommodation – such as night shelters, refuges, hotels/motels, motor camp sites and boarding houses, or sharing accommodation temporarily with others
- living in uninhabitable housing, such as dilapidated dwellings or those not intended for human habitation, like garages.
Read more about the New Zealand definition of homelessness on the Stats NZ website.
Homelessness is complex and results from multiple factors.
A key driver is a lack of social and affordable housing. The most at-risk groups include those with mental health issues or alcohol and drug addictions, and those experiencing family violence.
Homelessness is increasingly affecting groups who have not traditionally been at risk.
This includes low-income households (both working and beneficiaries), sole parent households, and young people (in particular gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex - LGBTQ+).
The rate of homelessness in Auckland is likely to remain high – and possibly get worse – unless there is a systematic and coordinated effort from all partners and stakeholders to end it.
A number of initiatives are underway to address this – including Kia Whai Kāinga Tatou Katoa – Auckland’s regional, cross-sectoral homelessness plan, and the Aotearoa Homelessness Action Plan.
Other initiatives to address homelessness may include increasing the social housing stock, reviewing the eligibility criteria for social housing, and enhancing security of tenure.
Numbers of homeless in Auckland
Analysis of 2018 Census data by the University of Otago (Amore et al, 2020) found 18,417 Aucklanders met the definition of homeless:
- 498 people without shelter
- 2,337 people in temporary accommodation
- 15,582 sharing temporarily
- an additional unknown number of people living in uninhabitable dwellings.
The number of homeless people in Auckland is likely to have been understated because of:
- the unknown number of people living in uninhabitable dwellings
- the complexities involved in reaching the homeless
- a reluctance by households to reveal their true circumstances
- problems with the 2018 Census impacting on the quality of the data collected.
Homelessness in Auckland had increased by 35 per cent between the 2006 and 2013 censuses. The study also found that nationally, 52 per cent of homeless adults were working, studying or both.
Amore, K. (2016) Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa / New Zealand: 2001 – 2013. He Kainga Oranga/Housing & Health Research Programme, University of Otago Wellington.
Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013 on the Healthy Housing website.