Supporting Housing First research in New Zealand

The People’s Project is committed to supporting research that contributes to robust evidence and a framework for developing a model for ending homelessness in New Zealand.

Overseas evidence has shown that people’s wellbeing has improved when they have permanent accommodation and ongoing support using the Housing First approach. Furthermore, Housing First has been proven to be a lot more cost-effective than other approaches to homelessness, when interactions with Government services are included in the analysis.

We have partnered with the University of Otago’s He Kainga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme, Statistics New Zealand and the University of Waikato’s National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA) to be part of a five-year research programme which is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The People’s Project research programme involves five concurrent projects.

1. Ending Homelessness in New Zealand: Housing First – Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) Project: outcomes for people housed. Led by Dr Nevil Pierce

The IDI at Statistics NZ links government administrative data, such as health, social welfare, corrections and police data. It allows researchers to look at the de-identified, anonymous interactions of people with these services.

This research began in 2016 and is using the IDI across a wide range of datasets to evaluate outcomes for 390 consenting clients of The People’s Project – up to 30 years before being housed and at two and five years after they were housed. The aim is to show the effect, pre- and post-housing, on the wellbeing of these people, and the extent of savings available to the government across a range of government-funded services by adequately funding and adopting a Housing First approach.

Phase One results of this research and its findings have been published in the international journal SSM Population Health  (Service usage by a New Zealand Housing First cohort prior to being housed, Vol 8, August 2019). The published research is available from

The results have debunked the myth that people who are homeless are hard to reach, as the majority (above 90%) of the 390 records were successfully linked to datasets in the IDI. The research also found that people’s interactions with health and justice services progressively increased in the five to 15 years before they engaged with The People’s Project for assistance.

The research team is currently working on Phase Two of this research (the same measures at two and five years post-housing) and the results will be shared when they become available.

2. The People’s Project: a model for ending homelessness in Hamilton. Led by Dr Polly Atatoa Carr

This research is a collaboration between NIDEA and The People’s Project, analysing anonymised records of consenting clients to determine characteristics of people who have been homeless in Hamilton. NIDEA have analysed the demographic characteristics of this group of people compared to the Hamilton population in general, and delve into their experiences of homelessness.

Phase One results have been published in Parity magazine (Housing First in Hamilton: who were first housed? Vol 31, Issue 10, Dec 2018):

Results included understanding people’s levels of debt and which population groups were represented. Phase Two of this research will look at regional comparisons between The People’s Project’s services in Hamilton and Tauranga.

3. Geographies of Homelessness: a case study of The People’s Project. Led by Renee Shum

University of Waikato researcher Renee Shum is looking at the definitions of homelessness that are used by providers of the services accessed by clients of The People’s Project. Renee is also interviewing providers about things that have worked and not worked in support of clients when working alongside The People’s Project.

4. Homelessness in Hamilton: pathways to finding a home. Led by Dr Rebekah Graham

In Phase One, Dr Rebekah Graham has conducted in-depth interviews with six people who have been housed by The People’s Project, to investigate what contributed to their homelessness and then what helped them find and stay in a home. This research includes photo-elicitation of the possessions or items that are important to people in their new homes.

In Phase Two, Dr Graham is exploring food insecurity and debt amongst people who have been housed through The People’s Project.

5. Lost points of intervention: pathways to homelessness in Hamilton, New Zealand. Led by Carole McMinn

Researcher Carole McMinn will interview and survey people who are being supported by The People’s Project to determine their pathways to homelessness. Overseas research shows that this pathway can often begin in childhood. Participants will be given the opportunity to tell us what type of intervention might have stopped them becoming homeless, and at what point in their journey to homelessness this help would have been welcomed. Carole is a case worker with The People’s Project and is also undertaking her doctorate.

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