The little things which can make a difference to the homeless

(Getty file)
(Getty file)

Homelessness is a cold, damp and dangerous lifestyle for 42,000 New Zealanders - and the problem is getting worse.

A decade ago, homelessness affected one in 130 people. Now, it's one in 100.

Other countries have come up with innovative solutions to help their homeless.

In the United States they're swapping tents for tiny homes to give warmer housing to the homeless.

"The big thing is probably security for most people," says Chris Moore, the executive director of Grace Campus.

"They'll be able to lock the door, they don't have to worry about their belongings. And I would imagine [they'll] probably sleep better at night knowing the door's locked and no one's going to walk in on them."

In Sydney, those sleeping rough now have access to safe, warm showers in a converted bus.

One homeless man described it as the best thing that had happened to him in a long time.

"It's a glorious feeling. It's just so nice and warm."

In the United Kingdom, a medic van roams London's streets offering free medical care to those in need.

Back in New Zealand, campaigners want councils to let people sleep in disused buildings including an old prison, or even decommissioned cruise ships.

"They're warm, they're dry, there's good bedroom and bathroom facilities, and it'll give them the freedom to come and go and be able to work" said Christchurch consultant Garry House.

A trio of political parties have also kicked off a nationwide inquiry into the problem.

The roadshow began at Te Puea Marae in south Auckland, with MPs including the Green Party's Marama Davidson, Labour's Phil Twyford and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox leading efforts to address the issue.

None of these are total solutions to New Zealand's homeless problem, but they might be a move in the right direction.