Housing First funding a great step forward

Press Release – Community Housing Aotearoa

29 July 2016

Housing First funding a great step forward to help vulnerable NZers

Community Housing Aotearoa is applauding the Government’s move to invest $9 million over the next two years into two internationally recognised models aimed at curbing homelessness.

Chief Executive Scott Figenshow says the investment is a positive step forward to support the country’s most vulnerable people. The funding will be partly used for a Housing First model which moves people into independent, permanent housing and provides additional support and services to address the issues underpinning homelessness. In addition, the Better Housing Outcomes funding will help providers prevent homelessness.

“What this does is put both services and houses at the heart of the healthy strong communities – if you fix housing you can fix a host of other social issues.

“We are pleased to see that Government has recognised that Housing First makes sense in New Zealand and that it is willing to invest $3M of this new fund in this sector-led initiative based on a proven international model. It also helps us connect the work that Auckland Council and Wellington City Council and Hamilton City Council are investing in addressing homelessness”.

NZ’s social housing sector received a great insight into the Housing First model when it hosted Amercian-based Dr Sam Tsemberis at the CHA conference last year, he says. Over the past nine months, Community Housing and Emergency housing providers have formed a community of practice to develop the best practice for implementing Housing First, and it is great to see Government recognize the innovation and experience in New Zealand.

Scott Figenshow says there has already been real leadership in action and it is fantastic to finally see government recognise the solutions that are coming from our sector.

“We have already seen some great work locally with the People’s Project in Hamilton successfully implementing Housing First. We also want to congratulate the community of practice group which includes Lifewise, The Wise Group, Vision West, Emerge Aotearoa, He Kaianga Oranga Otago University, Comcare, DCM and Dwell for working collaboratively. We understand further projects like Te Whakamura under the Te Mahana strategy actively support the principles of housing first. We all need to support such collaborations and see them expanded in future funding allocations.”

The Government needs to invest directly with the providers using this approach, he says. This funding is a first step and additional resources will be required and it is important the Government adopts a fast-track contracting process using existing and experienced providers.

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