Duncan Garner: COVID-19 lockdown is impacting New Zealand's poorest, most vulnerable

OPINION: I have unashamedly focused on the state and health of the economy during this pandemic because, well, someone has to. Without an economy, without businesses, without people employed - you have nothing. No tax base, no money to pay for a health system to treat the sick and the vulnerable, and no money to build a country.

I've done this because business needs a friend right now, and it's clear the Government is focused on the health side, trying to shut this complex virus out of New Zealand.

But there is another group of New Zealanders who we don't see during lockdown. We rarely hear from them at the best of times. 

That's our very poorest and most vulnerable, those who live on the street. 

How strange it must be - in the middle of a lockdown, in the middle of a cold, wet winter - for those many hundreds of people who live under bridges and on the streets. The wider CBD is their backyard, their way of making money, begging, getting what they can, being surrounded by vibrancy to get through their day. 

Then suddenly - quiet. No one is there. 

The shops are closed. Click-and-collect via a credit or debit card is part of another universe.

But here's the good news - the 'many hundreds' who are sleeping rough, may not be so. Those who look after and place these people into emergency housing say they have never seen so few people living on the street.

Lifewise says it's never been this low, a few dozen maybe.

Yet sadly, kids as young as 13 occupy the waiting list for emergency housing. Right now 50 youth are on the list for emergency housing. 

Some are in motels and that really is the hidden issue with the homeless now. Dozens of teenagers out on their own with nowhere to go.

That's everyone's problem, and the more time they spend homeless, surely the worse the outcome.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.