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University researchers evaluate The People’s Project

20 May 2016

The People’s Project has embarked on two research evaluation projects in partnership with Otago and Waikato Universities. 

The objective of both pieces of research is to investigate the feasibility, impact and economic case for providing housing to homeless people using the Housing First approach in New Zealand.

Project lead Julie Nelson said it was exciting and humbling to have researchers wanting to be part of The Peoples Project.

“Using data and sharing information are just two of our strategic goals. We want to make the best decisions we can for the people we’re working with, and this research will help us to continue to get better at what we do so that we can help more people, more effectively,” Julie said.

Supported by the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, the University of Waikato will evaluate the short and medium-term outcomes for the individual and of potential government savings in the domains of health, welfare, justice, corrections and employment.

Otago University will research the effects of the Housing First model on the social costs of 200 clients housed during the duration of the Project. This research will help understand the benefits and costs of Housing First.

Julie said researchers at Otago University have estimated the approximate cost of social services for a homeless person in New Zealand is $65,000 per year.

“That’s how much it costs for someone to cycle in and out of the courts, accident and emergency and other services,” Julie said.

Otago’s research also links in with Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure research currently being used to determine the characteristics of children at greater risk of poor outcomes as adults.

Results of both research projects are expected in 2017.

Julie said the information will help The People’s Project understand what is working, what isn’t and the costs, so that the People’s Project can be scaled into other regions across New Zealand.

The People’s Project recently released results of its first 21 months in operation (see story above). It also now knows how its results compare with other cities around the world who are also working to end homelessness, such as Calgary Canada.