You have to sleep some­where says home­less Paulie

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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