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Housing First

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Housing First is a programme to house and support people who have been homeless a long time and face multiple and complex issues.

The Ministry of Social Development funds Housing First programmes in high-need cities and regions across the country.

The goal is that homelessness should be brief, rare and non-recurring.


How does Housing First work?

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All people deserve a warm, secure, suitable and permanent place to live. Housing First recognises that housing is the vital first step because it is much easier for people to address issues such as mental health or substance abuse once they are housed.

Housing First provides immediate housing with no readiness conditions, such as sobriety or psychiatric treatment.

It also offers people long-term, flexible support services to help people stay in their home and address their issues so they can lead a better life.

The Housing First programme is an evidence-based approach that has been successful overseas.

Read more about Housing First core principles


Housing First is a collective approach to end homelessness

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Homelessness is a complex issue that no single organisation can fix alone:

  • MSD funds providers to deliver the Housing First programme.
  • Local Housing First providers find houses and offer long-term, personalised support to help people stay in their homes, linking across sectors to find the services that people need.
  • Local councils often contribute funding to and support Housing First, enhancing the services and housing options that providers can offer to homeless people.
  • Private landlords, iwi, community housing providers and Housing New Zealand provide houses; Housing First providers manage the tenancies and the properties.
  • Mental health services, health services, community social services, iwi organisations and Children’s Action Teams support people in Housing First.
  • Work and Income, Corrections, Te Puni Kokiri and Oranga Tamariki may also be working with people in Housing First.


The Housing First programme in Auckland

  • In Auckland, the Housing First programme has been operating since March 2017, with funding to house and support up to 572 chronically homeless people.
  • It is delivered by five service providers who form the Housing First Auckland Collective who work with the council, Housing New Zealand, property agents and private landlords, as well as range of health and social services.
  • By 30 June 2018, the Auckland Housing First programme housed 285 homeless people or families.
  • The five service providers who form the Housing First Auckland Collective are Kāhui Tū Kaha, Auckland City Mission, Lifewise, LinkPeople and VisionWest.
  • The cost for provider support services is jointly funded by MSD and Auckland Council. MSD also contribute rental subsidies through the Income Related Rent Subsidy and Accommodation Supplemen


Housing First in Christchurch, Tauranga and Wellington

The Housing First programme is mobilising in more cities during 2018.

  • Christchurch – up to 100 places with outreach beginning in May 2018
  • Tauranga – up to 100 places with outreach beginning in May 2018
  • Wellington (including Lower Hutt) – up to 150 places

In Christchurch, Housing First services will be delivered by a group of providers led by the Christchurch Methodist Mission with Comcare, Emerge Aotearoa and Otautahi Community Housing Trust.

The People’s Project Tauranga, a subsidiary of the Wise Group, is delivering Housing First in Tauranga.

In Wellington, providers are working on a proposal to deliver Housing First services, and these are expected to begin later in 2018.


Housing First in Rotorua, Whangarei/Northland, Napier/Hastings and Nelson/Marlborough

The Housing First programme is expanding with 550 new places in Rotorua, Whangarei/Northland, Nelson/Marlborough and the Napier/Hastings area.

The number of Housing First places in each region will be determined over the next few months as we work with providers and stakeholders in each region.

The new Housing First programmes are expected to begin in late 2018 or in 2019 at the latest.


Housing First core principles

Housing First is based on a set of core principles. In New Zealand, providers have evolved these principles within a kaupapa ­Māori framework.

  • Immediate access to housing with no housing readiness conditions (e.g. sobriety): Housing is a priority. Willingness to be housed and maintain a tenancy is the only requirement. People do not lose their housing if they disengage or no longer need support.
  • Choice and self-determination Each person’s choices and needs determine the support and housing they receive.
  • A harm reduction and recovery orientation approach: Providers holistically support people to cut back on practices – such as substance abuse - that put them at risk of harm, and to recover their physical and mental health.
  • Individualised, client driven support: providers proactively and persistently engage to make the service fit the person, for as long it is needed.
  • Social and community integration: Supporting better health, relationships, reconnections with whanau and community, learning and growth, and achieving goals.
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