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Homelessness in New Zealand

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Homelessness in New Zealand has been linked to the general issue of lack of suitable housing.[1] The homeless population is generally measured through the country's census and by universities and other academic centres. In 2009, urban homelessness (rough sleepers or improvised dwellings) were estimated at less than 300, while rural homelessness (improvised dwellings) was estimated between 500 and 1000. An additional 8,000–20,000 live in "temporary accommodation unsuited for long-term habitation (caravans, campgrounds, substandard housing and boarding houses)."[2] Homelessness in New Zealand has traditionally been reduced by the provision of state housing, similar to Germany and other developed countries.[citation needed]

Definitions and services[edit]

Statistical authorities in New Zealand have expanded their definition of homelessness to include ‘people living in improvised shelters’, ‘people staying in camping grounds/motor camps’ and ‘people sharing accommodation with someone else’s household’.[3] Services representing the sector include the New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness (NZCEH).[4]


The issue is believed to have become increasingly visible in recent years.[1] Media in New Zealand have published an accusatory account of the presence of homeless people in public spaces, positioning homeless men as disruptive threats. Though community members have shown support though writing opinion pieces.[5]

In late January 2019, the New York Times reported rising housing prices to be a major factor in the increasing homelessness in New Zealand so that "smaller markets like Tauranga, a coastal city on the North Island with a population of 128,000, had seen an influx of people who had left Auckland in search of more affordable housing. Average property values in Tauranga had risen to $497,000 from $304,000 in the last five years, and Demographia now rated it among the 10 least affordable cities in the world — along with famously expensive locales such as Hong Kong, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver, British Columbia."[6]

In mid August 2019, the Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced that the Government would be launching a NZ$54 million program to tackle homelessness in New Zealand. This includes investing $31 million over the next four years for 67 intensive case managers and navigators to work with homeless people and a further $16 million for the Sustaining Tenancies Programme. This funding complements the Government's Housing First programme.[7][8]

In mid December 2023, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 1,500 people out of Dunedin's 135,000 residents were homeless and expressed concerns that the figure could double. The Otago Daily Times reported that the city was facing a shortage of social housing including population growth, a shortage of affordable tenancies and the Dunedin Night Shelter's limited capacity.[9] By mid-May 2024, Dunedin's homelessness problem had led to the emergence of a tent encampment consisting of 11-22 tents in Kensington Oval, a large open sports field.[10] On 15 May 2024, Mayor of Dunedin Jules Radich proposed turning the Aaron Lodge Holiday Park, which is owned by housing provider Kāinga Ora, into social housing for homeless people.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Homelessness 'a national problem'". Radio NZ.
  2. ^ "Homelessness in New Zealand". New Zealand Parliament. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  3. ^ Busch-Geertsema, Volker. "Defining and measuring homelessness." Homelessness Research in Europe: Festschrift for Bill Edgar and Joe Doherty (2010): 19–39.
  4. ^ "Home". New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness.
  5. ^ Hodgetts, Darrin, Ottilie Stolte, Kerry Chamberlain, Alan Radley, Linda Nikora, Eci Nabalarua, and Shiloh Groot. "A trip to the library: Homelessness and social inclusion." Social & Cultural Geography 9, no. 8 (2008): 933–953.
  6. ^ "New Zealand Vowed 100,000 New Homes to Ease Crunch. So Far It Has Built 47". New York Times.
  7. ^ Jancic, Boris (18 August 2019). "Government announces $54 million to help keep people off the streets". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Government's new $54m homelessness scheme long overdue, housing official admits". 1 News. 18 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  9. ^ Williams, Mary (14 December 2023). "Homelessness' perfect storm". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Dunedin's homeless and rough sleepers erect growing tent encampment". RNZ. 16 May 2024. Archived from the original on 15 May 2024. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  11. ^ Williams, Mary (16 May 2024). "Holiday park idea floated for homeless". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 15 May 2024. Retrieved 16 May 2024.