A man sleeping in an Auckland central park has made an emotional plea for him and other homeless not to be treated "like animals" during the pandemic after being barred from his residence during level 4 lockdown.
The man contacted the newsroom on Monday morning raising issues over not being allowed back into his James Liston Hostel room - where he pays rent - because he was not there when New Zealand entered level 4 lockdown.
"We sleep in the park across the road from the hostel, no clean clothes or shower and we have to wait for the lockdown to finish it could be another week.
"We are cold and hungry left outside like animals. How are we supposed to keep safe if we are outdoors?"
He explained he has been locked out with a small group of others, including two women - one who has mental health issues and a man who is an amputee.
"How is he supposed to live out here with no support?"
He said they called WINZ and were told they cannot receive assistance as they are already in transitional housing - despite not being able to access it.
"Do we have to commit crime to go to jail to get a bed?"
He said he and others have been told they cannot re-enter the site until lockdown finishes.
James Liston Hostel is a shared emergency housing facility run by the Auckland City Mission for almost two years.
A spokesperson told Newshub the charity is dedicated to getting people into housing but the safety of everyone is paramount.
"We were clear with people that they needed to be back in the hostel before curfew. We've got to look after everyone there."
The homeless man said the treatment of him and the group has made them feel abandoned at a critical time.
"It's not fair we pay rent and they have us not allowed onto the premises," he told Newshub.
He explained they would be happy to follow strict rules to be allowed back in.
"They could at least test us and get us vaccinated or isolate us in a different part of the hostel. We know how to keep safe, social distancing, wear a mask, get tested if you are unwell you isolate away from others if you have signs of flu or symptoms," he says.
"No one believes us because we are looked at as liars."
He says they were at the hostel during last year's level 4 lockdown but feel hopeless as they now squander in the park.
"We were not turned to the street. We know how to keep the bubble safe."
The Auckland City Mission has been organising tests and vaccinations for its clients whenever possible but the man does not appear to have been aware.
He said they are scared they are going to be moved on from the area of the park they are occupying until they are offered help.
"We hope somebody comes and help us. We are human too. We know how to keep safe we don't deserve to sleep in the cold. We are scared that they will kick us out if we tell anybody."
The Auckland City Mission spokesperson said they were not immediately aware of the situation because there were no idenitying details provided but were unable to speak about specific cases anyway.
She said the team is going to try to find out what support can be provided.
She said last lockdown there was a huge push for emergency accommodation and many have stayed in the homes they were placed in.
She added that 15 people were placed in accommodation in the first couple of days of this alert level 4 lockdown and the City Mission team is on the streets every day to get food to those in need and connect with those living rough, offering support and care in times of need.
"From the last lockdown, where we worked really hard with Govt to provide emergency accommodation, we've stepped that up again."
Auckland City Mission keeps everything open during alert level 4, running services in a way that is safe for the people they are supporting.
"For us to make homelessness brief, rare and non-recurring is one of our aims."