Homeless to spend winter nights in Manukau bus station

A South Auckland bus station is set to become a home for the homeless over the next four weeks.

Auckland Transport, along with The Salvation Army and Auckland Council, have decided to turn the station into a night shelter to provide a dry and safe space for rough sleepers this winter. 

During the day, it connects public transport users to buses and trains - but as soon as next week, the Manukau Bus Station could have another purpose at night.

The idea was floated at the building's official opening in April.

They're hoping to get the go-ahead this week to open the space overnight for around 20 of Manukau's estimated 50 homeless - offering them a mattress and a safe place to sleep, and breakfast in the morning. 

Auckland Councillor Alf Filipaina says it's desperately needed. Two people died while sleeping rough last winter. 

"We want to make sure that doesn't happen again."

The Salvation Army will help to supervise the makeshift shelter, which will open at 10pm each night for about four weeks.

"The venue itself leaves a lot to be desired," says social policy analyst Alan Johnson.

"It's a concrete floor - it's not heated, but we're figuring it's safe, it's dry, and with some food in their tummies, it will be a lot better than where they would otherwise sleep."

He says while it's only a temporary solution, the shelter will help to link rough sleepers up with support services.

"Hopefully we can work with people to say, 'Hey look, is there something we can do to shift you out of where you are?'"

It's a short-term plan, but a team effort to take action, and open the door to some of the community's most in need.