Homelessness crisis getting worse, not better - report

A new report has found New Zealand's homelessness crisis is far more drastic than previously thought.

The Housing Stocktake has found 80 percent of those seeking emergency shelter are being turned away.

It also forecasts things are set to get worse, with emergency housing providers bursting at the seams.

Co-author Alan Johnson says the data shows how far behind we are when it comes to building homes.

"The current position around homelessness and people with temporary and unsatisfactory housing is that it appears to have got gradually worse.

"In terms of the population growth we've seen in New Zealand and particularly in Auckland over the last three years, we just haven't built enough houses to accommodate that growth.

"That's one of the biggest causes of what we're seeing now literally on the streets of New Zealand.

"Part of the problem, then, is that it will take some time to resolve that."

The report considers homelessness, the rental market, housing affordability and housing supply around the country, with an in-depth focus on Auckland.

New Zealand's closest official record of homelessness is the census. In 2013, around 1 in every 100 Kiwis were in severe housing deprivation.

In July, Auckland Council estimated 23,509 homeless people living in Auckland city - 3000 more than in the 2013 census.

The report details a large "floating population" - people without secure accommodation living in temporary housing, shared housing, and uninhabitable environments.

Homeless person sleeping on a park bench at Victoria Park, Auckland.
Homeless person sleeping on a park bench at Victoria Park, Auckland. Photo credit: Getty

This includes those sleeping rough or in cars or garages, in emergency housing or couch surfing.

Homelessness was a major issue in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's electoral campaign.

The Government has introduced a variety of measures to tackle the housing crisis, and it intends to build a further 100,000 affordable homes through KiwiBuild.

National Party housing spokesperson Michael Woodhouse has been critical of Labour's policies and says New Zealand will have problems with housing everybody for years to come.

"Building more affordable houses and more state house is part of the answer, but just to get around to being able to do that will take some effort because we don't have an agency that can build large numbers of houses.

"That's going to be the challenge - organising ourselves to get on with the job."

The report, authored by economist Shamubeel Eaqub, University of Otago Professor of Public Health Philippa Howden-Chapman and the Salvation Army's Alan Johnson, was released by Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford on Monday morning.