FAQ

Find out more about Ira Mata, Ira Tangata: Auckland's Homeless Count.

About Ira Mata, Ira Tangata: Auckland's Homeless Count

What does Ira Mata, Ira Tangata mean?

Ira Mata, Ira Tangata: Auckland’s Homeless Count is about people.

While not a literal translation, Ira Mata, Ira Tangata acknowledges the mana within the whakapapa (lineage) of each person. The name recognises that each person embodies those who have come before them and those in the future. It reflects that a person is not defined by their homelessness and that people who are homeless are valued – they ‘count’.

Who organised the count?

The count has been organised by providers in the Housing First Auckland collective and its backbone services team with support and funding of $375,000 from Auckland Council. The five organisations in the collective are Auckland City Mission, Lifewise, Kāhui Tū Kaha, LinkPeople and VisionWest.

The success of Auckland’s Homeless Count relies on strong community relationships and collaboration between services and organisations, including being informed by an Advisory Group. 

We’ve also been working closely with local community groups and organisations who work in the social sector, people with experience of living without shelter, Iwi, marae, emergency housing providers, Government, academics and researchers, businesses and other organisations, and will continue to work in partnership to address homelessness in Auckland.

What is Auckland's Homeless Count?

Ira Mata, Ira Tangata: Auckland's Homeless Count was Auckland's first region-wide Point in Time count of people living without shelter (on the street and in cars). 

The count also included people in temporary accommodation - information about people in temporary accommodation was sourced through services, rather than through face-to-face interviews by volunteers. The reason for including this information is because we know people move between temporary and unsheltered homelessness.

The count will provide important information and data about unsheltered homelessness across the region. When we have a better understanding of the size and nature of unsheltered homelessness, together we support more people into homes and make homelessness in Auckland rare, brief and non-recurring.

Who was counted?

Auckland’s Homeless Count focused on people living without shelter (on the street and in cars). The cound also included people in temporary accommodation.

We recognise overcrowding, inadequate and uninhabitable housing is a significant issue for many people. However, the Point in Time approach being used for the count is specifically for providing a snapshot of people living without shelter at a given time on a given night.

To accurately measure the full extent of hidden homelessness, different research methods are needed, which aren’t provided by a Point in Time count approach.

When and where did the count take place?

Auckland's Homeless Count took place on Monday 17 September 2018, from 9.30pm to 12.30am.

Auckland’s Homeless Count covered the Auckland region – from Wellsford in the north to Waiuku in the south, Piha in the west and the Hunua Ranges in the east.

How were people counted?

Auckland’s Homeless Count included a confidential survey of people living without shelter on the street and in cars, carried out by volunteers. The count also included people in temporary accommodation - this information was collected through services, rather than through face-to-face interviews by volunteers.

Volunteers went out in groups to speak with people living on the street or in cars. People were given the choice to participate in the confidential survey and we didn't disturb people who are asleep. However, everyone identified as living without shelter was included in the count of people who were sleeping unsheltered on the night.

Volunteers asked questions to help us understand the nature of this type of homelessness in Auckland - including how long the person had been on the street or in a car. 

We were also interested in general demographics such as people's age and gender, as well as identifying how many families were living without shelter and whether people stay in one part of Auckland or move around the region or country. We also asked people for their perception of their own safety, health and access to benefits.

All responses will be kept confidential.

How will you make sure people's privacy is respected?

Supporting and maintaining the dignity, respect and privacy of people living without shelter is extremely important.

All responses to the count will remain confidential and will not disclose the location where people were staying. People were given the choice to participate in the survey and did not have to answer any questions they didn't want to or weren't comfortable answering.

Volunteers were instructed not to take photos of people they spoke with on the night, or the locations they surveyed.

What questions did you ask?

All questions asked will remain confidential.

Auckland’s Homeless Count aims to understand how many people are living without shelter and their experience of homelessness, including how long they’ve been on the street or in a car.

We are interested in general demographics such as people’s age and gender, as well as identifying how long people have been living without shelter, how many families are living without shelter and whether people stay in one part of Auckland or move around the region or country. We also asked people for their perception of their own safety, health and access to benefits. 

The count did not seek information on how people came to be living on the streets or any specific questions about mental health.

About volunteering for the count

How many volunteers did you need?

We needed hundreds of volunteers to help us cover the vast Auckland region and ensure we gained an accurate understanding of people living without shelter. On the night, about 660 volunteers took part in the count.

Could anyone volunteer for Auckland's Homeless Count?

Yes, anyone could volunteer for Auckland's Homeless Count. Preference for team leader roles was given to people who had worked in the sector or had experience of homelessness. Volunteering for the count was a great way to help make a difference to the lives of people in our communities.

We needed hundreds of volunteers, including team leaders, to help us conduct the count across the Auckland region.

About 660 people volunteered on the night.

Did volunteers receive training?

Yes. All volunteers for Auckland's Homeless Count received training before the count to ensure they conducted the count respectfully. 

Each volunteer team included a team leader. The team leader had experience in the social sector or of living without shelter. Team leaders received additional training before the count.

About the findings of the count

How will the findings be used?

Survey responses will be kept confidential. This confidential information will be combined and included in a report which will be available to the public towards the end of the year.

The report and findings from the count will provide the sector with a greater understanding of people living without shelter in Auckland – how many people are sleeping on the street, how long have they been living on the street, how many are in cars, how many are families, do they have access to benefits, and what’s their perception of their health. 

This information can help services understand where they’re needed, and government and council to identify what services may be needed where to support people without shelter into housing, and what investment is required to do so.

When will the findings be available?

Initial findings were announced on 9 October in advance of World Homeless Day, 10 October. Find out more.

A full report with results and findings from the count will be available in December 2018.

Why is data so important for ending homelessness?

To solve an issue, you first need to accurately understand it. 

There’s a lot of good work happening already in Auckland to support people into housing and ending homelessness. However, we don't have a good understanding of the extent of unsheltered homelessness right across the region.

When we have good data about unsheltered homelessness, informed discussions can happen between organisations, Iwi and government to develop and enhance responses that meet the needs of people living without shelter across the region.

Until the findings are available, we don’t know exactly which services or supports might be needed. But we do know that it is an important starting point for identifying housing need for Aucklanders living without shelter.

What is a validation exercise?

International best practice recommends the use of estimation techniques to quantify the number of people missed during the count of people living without shelter.

We conducted a post-count validation exercise under the direction of a statistician from Otago University.

Our validation exercise showed we reached approximately 40% of the people who were without shelter on 17 September. From this we estimate there were approximately 800 people living without shelter across the Auckland region.

About the Point in Time approach

What is a Point in Time count?

A Point in Time count is a count which provides a snapshot of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness at a given time on a given night. The findings from the count should therefore be considered a minimum number of unsheltered homelessness in Auckland.

Why did you use the Point in Time approach?

The Point in Time approach used for the count is an internationally evidenced approach and is the most effective methodology we currently have for understanding the size and nature of unsheltered and temporary homelessness. 

This approach has been used in Canada and the US, and we've adjusted it slightly to use it in New Zealand.