The hidden homeless: Families forced to live in cars


They are called the hidden homeless.

They're a growing number of working families being forced to live in vehicles due to being unable to afford Auckland's soaring rent prices.

According to figures collated by the Salvation Army, rent for three-bedroom homes increased in Auckland by 25 percent from 2010 to 2015.

For Marie and her two young children, her car has been her home for two months.

"It's like they're shut away from society, really like I've hidden them away for society. They have nothing we're just here 24/7."

Her partner's not here -- he's busy at his fulltime job. However his take home pay of $600 a week can't match south Auckland rentals demanding $500 and more.

It's left Marie feeling totally detached and alone.

"I wouldn't even tell my own family that I am living in a car."

The family left a state home in the South Island because there was no work.

Marie says Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) told her they'd have to wait 18 months to get social housing here.

They're not alone either, up to 50 people a night can gather in Bruce Pullman Park in south Auckland.

The desperate sight of working families being forced to live in cars is increasingly common to Otara's MP Jenny Salesa.

"One of the things that we provide in our office is a box of tissues because there are so many families that come here with their kids. And they come in the minivans that they live in and when you see that on a weekly basis it breaks your heart."

Ms Salesa says the number of families coming to her seeking urgent housing has doubled in the last two years.

"I would say more than 45 percent of the people that seek my help are people who work. They're not beneficiaries. They work full-time jobs and some of them have two part-time jobs but it is still not enough."

Salvation Army's reported rents for three-bedroom homes in places like Manurewa have increased almost 25 percent since 2010 to over $400 a week.

Across the Auckland region, rents have increased over 25 percent across the same time period.

This week the Government announced it will fund 3000 emergency housing places nationwide each year, to assist families in need.

The first will be in place in September and for people like Marie, it can't come soon enough.