Today’s announcement by Government of a $9 million investment over two years to support the most vulnerable New Zealanders’ housing needs, has been warmly welcomed by The People’s Project.
The package includes $3 million for Housing First, a proven international model which recognises that it is more successful for people to address the issues that lead to homelessness once they are housed. The People’s Project adopted the Housing First model for its successful community-wide response to ending homelessness in Hamilton.
People’s Project lead, Julie Nelson, says “We are delighted that the Government has recognised the success of the Housing First model and has included it in this new package to support better housing outcomes.”
“The People’s Project has adapted the Housing First model to meet the unique needs of New Zealanders. The priority is to rapidly move people into appropriate housing and immediately provide wrap-around services to address the issues that have led to someone’s homelessness.”
“In Hamilton, we work directly with people to connect them with accommodation, income, employment and other community support services they may need to help them return to independent living.”
Since its establishment in August 2014, The People’s Project has housed 218 people and supported 251 to seek their own housing solutions. An impressive 93 per cent of those housed remain in their own homes. This multi-agency approach was a direct response to the public’s concerns about safety in the inner city and the number of people who were sleeping rough on the streets.
“Two years on, what we know about homelessness is that only a very small percentage of people are sleeping rough on a regular basis. Our experience is that around 5 per cent have been on the streets for a year or more and their situation is often complicated by mental health, trauma or addiction issues.”
“What’s growing, is the number of transitionally homeless. Those people who find themselves homeless or about to become homeless as a result of a variety of issues, including debt and domestic violence. In Hamilton, this group represents around 80 per cent of the homeless population.”
The People’s Project believes the flexible fund announced by Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett today and its two main initiatives, including Housing First, are a positive step towards addressing the social housing issue in New Zealand.
“Homelessness is a complex issue, but it can be solved when communities and agencies work together,” says Ms Nelson. “We have seen it in Hamilton with The People’s Project and applaud the Government in bringing the Housing First initiative to Auckland.”