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Focus on homelessness prevention and intervention move in right direction

13 February 2020

The announcement today by government that it is investing an additional $300M into a comprehensive cross-agency package to tackle homelessness is a positive move in the right direction.

Wise Group joint chief executive Julie Nelson said it acknowledged that government was listening to community groups working to end homelessness who have been championing the need for a whole-of-systems approach which offers a range of responses, including much more focus on prevention and tenancy sustainment.

“This is an incredibly important investment to continue addressing the issue of homelessness.

“We know from our research that the longer someone is homeless, the more complex their situation becomes.  Preventing homelessness from occurring by addressing its drivers in a person-by-person, case-by-case way, shifts the focus from ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’, to finding individualised solutions for people, and doing so before they need much more intensive, and therefore more expensive, support,” she said.

She believed this new approach would also strengthen case management relationships between government and non-government agencies, working in a joined-up way for vulnerable families and individuals.

Ms Nelson said a swift and early intervention and prevention approach alongside the provision of more housing would be a strong combination towards ending homelessness in Aotearoa.

“This package clearly signals a move away from temporary, siloed solutions that have seen people stuck in emergency accommodation, towards more permanent, evidence-based solutions.

“Alongside this we would also welcome continued investment in more social and public housing, because we know that you also need the housing to end homelessness.”

She said the principles of the evidence-based Housing First approach can be applied to all homelessness responses, with the first principle being access to a permanent, stable home.

“Housing is a human right and people need stability to build a home. When we look to other countries that are making great progress in ending homelessness and housing issues, they have two things in common – they invest seriously to increase their government housing stock year-on-year, and they invest in their community not-for-profit sector to enable them to contribute to the solution.”

For details of the full announcement an $300M investment, read the Government media release.