You have to sleep somewhere says homeless Paulie
Paulie the window washer spends most nights in a church doorway.
He collects his blankets from underneath a nearby parking building sandwich board and lays them out in the entrance to St Matthewin-the-city.
“It’s my choice, I choose to live here,” he says.
The 47-year-old has been sleeping rough in Auckland for the past five years.
He receives a sickness benefit, and makes money by washing car windows with a couple of mates, who are also homeless.
“We make a lot of money window washing,” he says.
“Me and my bros can make a couple of hundred a day between us.”
He sometimes begs too, sitting outside McDonald’s on Queen St with a cardboard sign, but hasn’t lately.
The money is all spent on drugs and alcohol.
He says he could return to his home city, Napier, where he worked as a painter and decorator, but prefers his current life on the streets.
Paulie’s been arrested many times, and is currently on bail for charges including drinking in public and breaching supervision orders.
He and fellow window washers are not surprised to be asked about Auckland City Council’s proposed homeless bylaw.
They’ve heard about the plan to move homeless people off the streets, and think it’s a farce.
“It’s not going to happen. You’ve got to sleep somewhere,” Paulie says.
A homeless count in June found 91 people sleeping on Auckland streets within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower.
That was up by 26 on the previous year’s count, and frontline workers say the numbers are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
Over the six months to September, the council received 18 complaints about homeless people and eight relating to begging.
Numbers are down on the previous year, when between 54 and 80 calls a month were received.
Street sense: Paulie the window washer, in his usual sleeping spot outside St Matthew-in-the-city, says a bylaw won’t keep him off Auckland streets.