Winter is here and the homeless are feeling the bite

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Those homeless on the streets are already struggling with the cold as the first day of winter approaches.  Te Kāea hit the streets to find out how the less fortunate are coping.

Homeless woman 'Francis' says, “It's so sad, we have families out there with children that are as young as three years old, like 'come on I'm an adult I'm really freezing'.”

Yesterday was the coldest day on record in Auckland in over 60 years.

Living on the streets for 35 years, Francis says it’s colder than ever. 

“People- if you come out here it's so cold- people are going to start dying, how many more people must die out here?"

Lifewise is a government-funded pilot program which has housed over forty homeless people in one year.  Manager Lisa Roberts says there needs to be a more cohesive pathway for homeless.

Lifewise is one of five agencies delivering a government-funded pilot programme called Housing First Auckland and has housed over forty homeless people in one year.

“There's a bit of emergency housing, there's some Housing First, there's some transitional housing, there's some specialist small providers. What we would like to see is a national strategy around housing which includes homelessness,” says Roberts.

“It would be great to see a pathway where people have a single point of entry and they can look at all the different provisions that are open to them and they can be steered in the right direction.  At the moment people have to knock on every individual door to see if they fit the criteria”.

She says a specific strategy for Auckland is needed to tackle the growing number of those sleeping rough.

Meanwhile, the homeless do what they can to cope with the winter chill.

“You try sleeping out here boss.  It's so cold, I sleep with 5 mink blankets, last night our blankets got taken,” says Francis.

The first day of winter will be Friday.