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Government investment shifts focus towards permanent housing outcomes

12 May 2019

The Government’s announcement to continue investing in existing and new Housing First programmes recognises the growing body of New Zealand evidence that Housing First, which prioritises permanent housing outcomes, is one of the best approaches for ending chronic homelessness.

Today (Sunday, 12 May), the Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Urban Development announced an additional $194M will be  invested in Housing First programmes over the next four years. The money will fund an additional 1,044 places in the programme, bringing the total number of people in the programme to 2,700.

Wise Group joint chief executive Julie Nelson said the team is delighted to see the Government’s support for and ongoing commitment to the Housing First approach.

“Housing First works,” Ms Nelson said. “The People’s Project has been using Housing First in Hamilton since 2014, and five years on we now have significant data about the nature of homelessness which is being used to inform several ground-breaking research programmes throughout New Zealand.”

These include partnerships with the University of Waikato’s National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis and Otago University’s He Kainga Ora, Healthy Housing research programme. In addition, a staff member from The People’s Project is undertaking a PhD investigating pathways into homelessness in the Waikato region.

Since 2014, The People’s Project has supported 673 housing outcomes in Hamilton, and in Tauranga, where it opened in 2018, it has supported 42 housing outcomes in almost 12-months.

Housing First is an evidence-based approach which prioritises finding a person a home first and then providing the wraparound support needed to sustain their tenancy and reduce the risk of future homelessness. The approach recognises that it’s easier for a person to address issues such as addictions and to better manage mental health, once they have a home.

Ms Nelson said Housing First is a no-exit programme with no fixed timeframe for people to be in or out of the service. Losing a house does not mean exiting the programme – as the support continues to help re-house people. This, she said, requires sustainable funding.

“I think we all agree this is a significant commitment from the government that will provide hope and, most importantly, benefit some of the most vulnerable people and whānau across Aotearoa. It is really pleasing to see the evidence that underpins Housing First being taken seriously and shifting the focus towards permanent, sustainable housing outcomes for people.  Working together, we can end homelessness in New Zealand so that it becomes rare, brief and non-recurring.”

Read the full announcement on the Beehive website.