Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers spent one night sleeping rough this month to draw attention to increasing homelessness in Rodney and the lack of affordable housing in the wider Auckland region.
Cr Sayers blames much of the problem of homelessness on Auckland Council, saying it is failing to create a regulatory environment that would make building new houses quick, easy and affordable.
In particular, he would like Council to get rid of the Metropolitan Urban Limit, which inflates land prices within its boundaries.
He also says builders are inhibited by the cost and time it takes for builders to secure resource consents and comply with Council building codes.
“A lot of builders won’t do business with Council anymore. It’s easier to go to Thames or Marsden Point, because those councils make life a lot easier,” he says.
More than 100 people participated in The Big Sleep Out on the AUT campus in Wellesley Street in an event organised by Lifewise, a development organisation that seeks to address challenging social issues.
Cr Sayers slept on a piece of cardboard and acquired $15 worth of bedding from a charity shop for his stint at being homeless.
He says he got little sleep, and a thunderstorm during the night prompted participants to dash for cover under any sort of available verandah.
He says the experience hardened his resolve to make Council more responsive to the needs of the homeless.
The Big Sleep Out event has raised more than $310,000 to combat homelessness and Cr Sayers personally raised more than $4000 by asking for donations via Facebook and email.