Know how many Kiwis experience homelessness

In 2013, there were at least 41,000 homeless New Zealanders, or one in every 100 New Zealanders.*

*Source: Amore, K. (2016). Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013.
He Kainga Oranga / Housing & Health Research Programme.
Available at


Know what it means to be homeless

Homelessness is defined as a living situation where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing are: without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household, or living in uninhabitable housing.

Sharing accommodation

Living situations that provide temporary accommodation for people through sharing someone else's private dwelling are considered ‘sharing accommodation’. The usual residents of the dwelling are not considered homeless.

This portion of our homeless population is by far the largest with at least 28,500 in 2013.

Temporary accommodation

Living situations are considered ‘temporary accommodation’ when they provide shelter overnight, or when 24-hour accommodation is provided in a non-private dwelling that is not intended to be lived in long-term. This includes hostels for the homeless, transitional supported accommodation for the homeless, and women's refuges. Also included are people staying long-term in motor camps and boarding houses, as these are not intended for long-term accommodation.

Without shelter

Living situations that provide no shelter, or makeshift shelter, are considered as ‘without shelter’. These include situations such as living on the street, and inhabiting improvised dwellings (eg living in a shack or a car).


Uninhabitable housing

Living situations where people reside in a dilapidated dwelling are considered ‘uninhabitable housing’.

In May 2017 we delivered a 10,725 strong petition to Parliament


With help from Action Stations, Gimme Shelter developed a simple question for Social Development minister Anne Tolley and her MP's: Who's in charge of homelessness?

To be more specific we asked:

1) The Minister for Social Development to create specific, effective government policy to tackle homelessness as a distinct social issue.

2) That homelessness is added to the Social Development portfolio to bring New Zealand in line with many other OECD countries.

On the 21st of June, 2017, the Social Services Select Committee heard from James Crow of Gimme Shelter and will return their official decision at a later date.


READ JAMES' Oral submission in support of the petition to Social Services Committee

Good afternoon,

Members of the committee, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to present this submission today and speak on behalf of the almost 11,000 petition signees I represent through Gimme Shelter, Aotearoa.

As background, Gimme Shelter, Aotearoa is an independent advocacy group focused solely on the issues surrounding homelessness in New Zealand.

Through the petition process New Zealanders were asked if they would want to see the following:

1) The Minister for Social Development create specific, effective government policy to tackle homelessness as a distinct social issue.

2) That homelessness be added to the Social Development portfolio to bring New Zealand in line with many other OECD countries.

During the petition process much has changed in the homelessness landscape, this committee’s finding on previous submissions has somewhat set a precedent for its current appetite around policy. I am also not here to discuss a national strategy for homelessness, as although that is the preferred option by Australia, Great Britain, Canada and most other commonwealth countries, I believe that under the appropriate ministerial ownership of this issue, a national strategy will be a natural progression in the future.

I would like instead to focus on our second point as Gimme Shelter firmly believes that attaching clear ownership of homelessness and defining it under the roles and responsibilities of a single member of parliament will be highly beneficial to tackling this complicated social issue. 

It was noted in the Ministry of Social Development's own report into homelessness from 2014 that no government agency has the statutory responsibility for the homeless or related services.

Put simply I ask: whom the minister responsible for homelessness is, or if one is not clearly defined, does this committee believe as I do that this further defining is required?

I have brought this question here today. I'm not a politician, I'm a businessman, and in my own business I have learnt that clear ownership of responsibilities is integral to any progressive strategy. To ignore this fact can easily lead to mismanagement, wasted resources and a struggle to deliver effective results. How government can hope to tackle an issue as large as homelessness without such clear defining of responsibility is beyond me but I’m in business and not politics.

I also ask that this committee take reference from the excellent work undertaken in the creation of the Office for Seniors, which is a prime example of the Ministry of Social Development acknowledging a specific need within the social services that required a separate identity to meet a particular societal group and need. Homelessness is a very similar group with specific issues that often puts the most vulnerable outside the standard reach of social services.

In closing I hope that through this process we can come to a complete understanding of whether this lack of statutory responsibility has improved and where the role of ministerial leadership is seen to be important by this committee.

Thank you.