Official count reveals 800 homeless people in Auckland

The results of the country's biggest ever homeless count have been revealed.

The official count was carried out on September 17, conducted by the Housing First Collective with support from Auckland Council. People sleeping on the street and in cars were counted as officially homeless.

It was the first time a street count of such size and scale has ever been undertaken in New Zealand.

On the night of the count, 179 adults were sleeping rough on Auckland's streets while 157 were sleeping in cars. A validation exercise guided by Otago University statistician Dr Nevil Pierse estimated that number represented about 40 percent of the total number of homeless Aucklanders.

That means approximately 800 people are currently homeless in the city, with a further number totalling almost 3000 in transitional or emergency housing.

Mayor Phil Goff, who participated in the count along with more than 660 other volunteers, says that number is "800 too many".

"I took part in the count and walked the streets of Māngere in the middle of the night," he says. "It brought home the miserable existence for many people who sleep rough in our region."

He emphasised the importance of measuring homelessness as way to "end homelessness, not just manage it".

Mr Goff says there will be another count in December which will provide more detail into how people come to be homeless.

As well as the street count, Housing First learned there were 2974 people in temporary or emergency accommodation on the night of September 17. Of those, 1299 were children. 

Housing First Auckland programme manager Fiona Hamilton says it's vital to include those in temporary housing in the count as they represent some who would otherwise have been on the streets that night.

She says the count wasn't mean to provide a comprehensive depiction of Auckland's homelessness problem, but rather a snapshot of the issue on a single night.

"Ultimately this count was about people, gathering this information to assign better support and helping our communities take another step forward in ending homelessness in Auckland so that it is rare, brief and non-recurring."

The information gathered will be implemented to inform policies and practices around combating homelessness, as well as provide a baseline to measure change over time as a result of future initiatives or new programmes.

Auckland Council will lead a regional homeless plan for the city based on information from the count.