Hundreds of people are on housing waiting lists and extra security is patrolling the streets in Hawke’s Bay as homelessness reaches critical levels.
One Hastings couple is even letting strangers sleep on a mattress in their carport to keep them off the streets.
Young father Myles Parkinson is now off the streets, but the homeless are never far from his mind. Earlier this year he couldn’t find a house to rent and was sleeping in a car.
Mr Parkinson and his partner, Romana Manning, allow their homeless friends to crash on the couch and in a shed at their unit.
About seven people a week stay with the couple – and they even let strangers stay in the carport.
To help them get by, Mr Parkinson and Ms Manning have been collecting free food from Nourished for Nil, a Hastings service used by up to 180 people each day.
“When people have food in their bellies and when there’s food predictability, it certainly has great repercussions,” Nourished for Nil founder Christine McBeth says.
In Napier, up to 400 people are waiting for social housing.
Andrew Arnold’s been sleeping rough on and off for years.
“I got taught by the older, wiser people on the streets on how to survive on the streets,” he says.
He often spends the night curled up in his sleeping bag in central Napier, due to alcohol dependency and being unable to find a suitable home.
He’s one of a growing number of homeless in Hawke’s Bay, and says there’s a desperate need for a homeless shelter in the city.
“If I could have a place to sleep at night I wouldn’t complain.”
The Napier City Council says security guards are needed to keep people safe, as violence from beggars and those high on drugs is on the rise.
“It’s not just about moving people on because as you say that transfers the issue,” says council community strategies manager Natasha Carswell.
The Government has given an extra $320,000 to help with homelessness in the region, but what many are looking for is a more permanent solution.