One in six kiwis are homeless and tonight around 41,000 of us will go to bed without adequate access to shelter – the equivalent of 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 hits 7%.
That’s according to new research for Orange Sky, a charity that provides mobile laundry, shower and support services to homeless people.
Eddie Uini, chief operating officer of the charity Aotearoa, said Checkpoint its services were increasingly used by families and others who had a roof over their heads, but were so financially overwhelmed that they were looking for every way to save.
“If they can save $20 at the laundromat, that’s $20 worth of food on the table, with the rising cost of living and housing and, in general, people are having a tough time… you can never take for granted that [far] even a little goes right now.
“People have to make choices among simple things that we take for granted, so if they save that $20, it’s for basic survival.”
The organization found that one in 10 New Zealanders had skipped meals in the past year to pay their bills.
Uini said people tell them it’s just everyday hardship to tip people into the area where they can’t afford basic living costs, and things like hot showers or the heating were sacrificed.
“It’s the families who may have lost a source of income, they may have less hours, and also with the increased costs – with the increased gas and food.
“It’s been pretty tough the last two years, with Covid, and it’s not just people roughing it on the streets…it’s not a good time for a lot of people.”
Along with basic physical needs, loneliness and social isolation was another issue that seemed to be more prevalent than before, Uini said.
When people use the Orange Sky van, they can also chat with the team, support which Uini says is just as important as showers and washing machines.
He said the recent death of an elderly woman who was living in her car had shocked many Aucklanders.
The charity is hosting a fundraising and awareness challenge to support its mobile shower and laundry services, where supporters spend three days wearing the same t-shirt, leading to discussions about the realities of the roaming New Zealand with those around them.