One in six kiwis have been homeless and tonight about 41,000 of us will bed down without adequate access to housing - equivalent to the population of Whanganui, according to a new study.
And more than a quarter of New Zealanders are struggling to make ends meet as inflation cracks 7 percent.
That's according to new research for Orange Sky, a charity that provides mobile laundry, shower services and support to people experiencing homelessness.
The charity's Aotearoa operations manager Eddie Uini told Checkpoint its services were increasingly being used by families and other people who had a roof over their head, but were so stretched financially they were looking for every way they could to save.
"If they can save $20 an the laundromat that's $20 of food on the table, with the rising cost of living and housing and just in general people are doing it tough... you can never take it for granted how [far] even a little bit goes at the moment.
"People are having to make choices out of the simple things that we take for granted, so if they save that $20 that's going to towards things for just basic survival."
The organisation found that one in 10 New Zealanders had missed meals in the last year to pay bills.
Uini said people were telling them it was simple everyday difficulties tipping people into the zone where they could not keep up with basic living costs, and things like hot showers or heating were being sacrificed.
"It's families that might have lost a source of income, they might have less hours, and also with the raising costs - with petrol rising and food.
"It's been pretty tough the last year or two, with Covid, and it's not just people doing it rough on the streets ... it's not been a great time for a lot of people."
As well as the basic physical needs, loneliness and social isolation was another problem that seemed to be more widespread than previously, Uini said.
As people use the Orange Sky van they could also have a chat with the team, a support that Uini said was just as important as the showers and washing machines.
He said the recent death of an elderly woman who had been living in her car had shocked many Aucklanders.
The charity is running a fundraising and awareness challenge to support its mobile shower and laundry services, where supporters go three days wearing the same t-shirt, leading to discussions about the realities of homelessness in New Zealand with those around them.