More measures to help those facing homelessness

The Government has announced additional measures to prevent and reduce homelessness focused on ensuring at-risk individuals and whānau have access to stable housing and continue to stay housed.

Associate Minister of Housing, Kris Faafoi, and Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, have announced $54 million in Government funding for initiatives which will support at-risk individuals and whānau to stay in their existing tenancies.

The funding will also provide additional wrap around services.

Strengthening ways to reduce homelessness and prevent it complements the Government’s existing investment in the Housing First Programme which supports people with multiple, high and complex needs who have been, or are already homeless.

“These initiatives are part of this Government’s pledge to end homelessness and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their whānau through safe, warm, dry homes,” Minister Faafoi said.

“As part of our work on homelessness we are expanding the Sustaining Tenancies programme. It ensures that tenants who may be at-risk of losing their tenancy receive practical support to help them get back on track.

“That support includes budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support, with the goal of helping people remain in their existing homes.

“Sustaining Tenancies is a key prevention initiative and we are keen to see it continue with the support of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development,” Minister Faafoi said.

“The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) will be giving targeted support for families with children and people with mental health needs who are living in emergency motel accommodation, or who are at high risk of homelessness, says Minister Sepuloni.

“MSD has identified a distinct group of people that face a range of complex issues that are a barrier to finding and keeping a home of their own, such as mental health and addictions, criminal history, or family violence.

“We will be supporting these people building their resilience and wellbeing, to break the cycle of homelessness through targeted on the ground support.

“The Government is investing $31 million over the next four years for 67 intensive case managers and navigators to work with these people and a further $16 million for increased social services,” Minister Sepuloni said.

Ministers Faafoi and Sepuloni described these Government initiatives as pragmatic steps towards ending homelessness in New Zealand, which will be taken in partnership with the wider sector.

“We are stepping in where we see an immediate need to support vulnerable people, while we develop a longer-term approach to see homelessness prevented, or at least rare, brief and non-recurring,” they said.

Housing First is a proven, internationally recognised approach to house and support people experiencing homelessness, who have multiple, high and complex needs. The approach is to provide housing quickly then offer tailored support for as long as it’s needed to help people stay housed and help deal with the issues that led to their homelessness.

Budget 2019 provided $197 million funding to strengthen the Housing First programmes in Whangarei, mid Far North, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay, Wellington and the Hutt, Nelson, Blenheim, and Christchurch.

At the end of June 2019 - 806 households have been housed through the Housing First programme. So far, 1,216 households have been accepted into the programme.

Sustaining Tenancies is a prevention programme which provides practical support to households to help them retain their tenancies. Currently it is only available for public housing tenants in three locations. However, as part of the increased investment, we will be expanding the service to support five new regions and we will also be rolling it out to private market rentals.

The Sustaining Tenancies programme has been trial funding eight providers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to support approximately 550 public housing tenants.

The trial helped to reduce reliance on transitional and emergency housing support, prevent rates of homelessness from increasing, which improves wellbeing for individuals, families and whānau - including positive outcomes on employment, relationships, education and health. It also reduces pressures/costs on other parts of the state care system, such as Health and Corrections.

In the short-term, the Government is investing $6.6 million over 2 years year to support up to 550 at risk households per year.

Support Services The Government is investing $16.1 million over four years to provide wrap-around support to families with children and people with mental health needs in emergency housing, as well as people with a history of cycling in and out of emergency housing. Support services will be delivered by local community organisations contracted by MSD, and will help people living in emergency housing to address the barriers they face in accessing and sustaining suitable, long-term housing.

Introducing Intensive Case Managers and Navigators. The Government is investing $31.28 million over four years into this programme. Intensive case managers will be an MSD staff member who and will be a single, consistent point of contact for each family or individual, taking an holistic approach to people’s needs to reduce housing instability. Navigators will assist where people need more support than an intensive case manager can offer. Navigators will co-ordinate services and provide on-going support for people with housing needs. Navigators will work with providers, health professionals, and government agencies and community organisations. Navigators will be from a local community organisation contracted by MSD.