‘Our homeless community is going to be bigger than ever’

Groups working with homeless people are bracing themselves for another gruelling few months as winter sets in.

Emergency housing providers said the need for homes in the colder months is just as high as previous years and urgent plans must be made to ensure people were sheltered.

De Paul House, based on Auckland’s North Shore, has been housing people for 32 years and manager Jan Rutledge said this year would be just as tough as last year.

“It’s very hard to gather what the need will be, but it’s certainly anecdotally something that we are really concerned about.

“Demand always peaks in winter, and in terms of our services, it’s still really distressingly easy to fill our spaces – we do have a wait-list and for the 23 places for families that we have, they are pretty much continually at full capacity.”

The 2013 census showed more than 41,000 people were without homes or living in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation.

More than 6000 people are waiting for a house on the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing register.

Ms Rutledge said these figures were unlikely to represent the real scale of homelessness.

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