Daniel's plea to the Govt: 'Everyone needs a roof over their heads'

  • 10/10/2017

It's often said people are just two major life changes away from homelessness - losing a job, a messy break-up, or perhaps a serious illness.

For Daniel, who was without a home for a decade, it was a major family issue that saw the rug pulled out from underneath him and left in him living in a tent.

"It was never the plan for it to be that long [on the streets]," he told The AM Show on Tuesday morning.

"I lived in a tent on the side of the motorway. There were a lot of rats around and it was very scary situation to be in, especially at night. Not having a home, there's a lot of complications."

Daniel tried to get off the streets, but the housing crisis meant there were very few options for him. A few months ago, he looked into Housing First, a service that aims to find houses for those who wouldn't otherwise be able to get them.

He's now been living in a house for three months - an experience he describes as "awesome" and "really transforming".

"I still have problems, but I'm able to work on those rather than looking for a duvet, instead of doing the things I needed to do to maintain life on the street," he said.

"I now feel hope for my other homeless friends who are still in that position."

Daniel told host Duncan Garner there should be a lot more awareness of what homeless people endure - not just those on the streets, but those living in garages and cars too.

Throughout his 10-year stint on the streets, Daniel hardly moved his from his tent next to the motorway. During the day, he would go to the library to use the free internet and visit nearby soup kitchens.

"It was a lot of organising, and a lot of running around trying to find things. It's rough living, and it's difficult," he said, adding that many of his homeless friends died through exposure to the elements.

"We live in Aotearoa, it's a beautiful country and a lot of people want to come and live here. I just feel the tangata whenua really ought not to be living in cars and garages.

"Everybody ought to have a roof over their heads - no matter how great the wealth gap."

He says in many ways, there's a family dynamic on the streets whereby homeless people step into family roles their counterparts never had.

"I've known people to be street mum and dad to me, and I've been street dad to others. We look after each other, and have our own set-up and system of justice," he said.

Today, October 10, is World Homelessness Day - and there's an event in Aotea Square in Auckland's CBD to raise awareness of the issue.