Prisoners released and forced to sleep rough

Recently released prisoners are sleeping in bus stops and in parks because they can't afford to pay rent in Auckland.

They say that just makes it harder to stay on the right side of the law.

One man Newshub spoke to was fresh out of jail and sleeping rough, in bus stops and door steps. He says he couldn't find or afford anything better.

"[It's] horrible, horrible, cold, you don't have any bedding - you have nothing, you have got nothing," he said.

"I got released from prison with nothing."

Respite on a rough night is the price of a burger.

"In McDonald's I bought a hamburger and sat there until 2:30, until they asked me to leave," he said.

He's been in and out of jail for decades and amassed hundreds of convictions for domestic violence and drink-driving.

He's also subject to a protection order. With fraud convictions back to 1989, he admits it makes him an unattractive tenant.

With a benefit and accommodation allowance, he gets just over $400 a week.

One of the private rental options available to him was $380 a week, leaving him just $29 for food and power.

To complicate things, sources have told Newhub he's been assessed as unsuitable for shared living and turned down for Ministry of Social Development (MSD) emergency accommodation.

He's on a work trial but won't be employed for another month - assuming all goes well.

"You just walk around at night, you've got nowhere to go, and it's hard," he said.

"And I'm not a young fella anymore, you just want to not hurt anyone, you don't want to do anything wrong."

And he is not the only one. Newshub's spoken to another recently released prisoner who has mental health and addiction problems.

He's also sleeping rough. On nights he can't find someone's couch to camp on, he beds in the bush in a reserve, or other parks in the neighbourhood.

Corrections says 15,000 prisoners are released each year and it funds 931 beds for very short term stays of up to three months.

But Corrections can't say if any of those beds in Auckland are currently vacant.

It says it's "working with MSD to develop enhanced processes to ensure... Recently released prisoners have appropriate emergency accommodation support, while managing any risk or safety concerns".

After Newshub started asking questions about one prisoner, Corrections paid to put him in a motel for two weeks. He's grateful for the effort it has gone to in his case, but says there are others like him still on the street.