Auckland homelessness reaches breaking point
Auckland Council says it's time to get serious about dealing with homelessness.
The number of people sleeping rough is rising, and while the council puts money aside for homeless initiatives, it says nationwide funding is needed.
Newshub spoke to one young woman about life on the street.
Ms Banks has been on Queen St -- the country's most famous strip -- ever since.
The pavement is her bed, and the shop awnings her shelter. She owns a pillow, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes and a felt tip to write a desperate daily plea.
She's hungry, homeless, coinless and jobless. Life on the streets, she says, is tough.
"Not very nice -- some nights are good but other nights are s**t," she says. "Some nights are s**t. I've been beaten up for no reason for asking someone for change and I've been punched into the walls here. It's not very nice. It actually hurts."
Life is getting tougher. The streets are filling up with more homeless people, fighting her for spare change and space.
"It has increased. It's made it harder for me to make some money. I've been out here for four years and I've never found it hard to make any money until this year. And it's really hard."
Last year she could make $50 in a couple of hours; now she's lucky to get $10.
"So that's not very good for me. I don't like it. I just wish everyone would get off the streets and give me a chance."
It's estimated 160 people are sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower. Just three years ago the number was 68. Auckland Council says the city's housing shortage compounds the issue.
The council says it's time to get serious about homelessness and has allocated money for homeless initiatives, such as supporting the provision of emergency housing.
"The one thing the council could do for us is give us a drop-in centre, where we can wash our clothes and stuff, because they don't offer us that. Living on the street, it's hard for us to wash our clothes. They get smelly; we get smelly."
There will be no hot shower, but if she makes some money she might get a hot drink. She says the money never goes towards drugs or alcohol.
"No it doesn't. I'm being honest. If I ever get it, it goes on food."
Ms Banks, now 22, wants to, one day, get married, be a teacher and raise her own family in a home. That's her jackpot.