A new initiative aimed at ending chronic homelessness in Auckland has officially kicked off.

Today Social Housing Minister Amy Adams and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff launched Housing First Auckland, which aims to house 472 homeless Aucklanders and provide wrap-around services to address the causes of their homelessness.

“We don’t want to see anyone living on the street or in shelters. The drivers behind homelessness are often complicated and difficult, such as mental health issues, alcoholism or family violence, and there isn’t a quick fix. We need to combat homelessness at its core, by addressing the causes behind it,” says Ms Adams.

“In order to help rough sleepers, we need to get them into secure housing first. This Housing First pilot will help achieve this by helping our homeless into safe, secure and stable accommodation, and then providing wrap-around services to address their issues.

“The programme is internationally-renowned, and backed up by strong domestic and international evidence. It also reflects a social investment approach, where we can reduce the significant, long-term societal and financial costs of homelessness by investing more upfront.”

Mayor Goff says: “Homelessness is a growing problem in Auckland and it needs to be tackled as a priority. The housing first approach has worked in other cities in New Zealand and overseas and that is why we are adopting here.

“It makes absolute sense for central and local government, NGOs and the private sector to work together to take effective steps to respond to chronic homelessness.

“Housing First Auckland is already delivering results, with eight rough sleepers in Central and West Auckland now in homes with on-going wrap-around support. Across the city, more than 30 people are in the wings for similar support. This is a start but there is much to do.”

The pilot is funded by Government ($3.7 million) and Auckland Council ($1 million), and involves experienced community organisations, Affinity Services, Lifewise and the Auckland City Mission, LinkPeople and Vision West. It will run for two years.

Housing First Auckland will focus on the City Centre, Central, West and South Auckland where there is the highest concentration of homeless people. Read the NZ Herald article here.

Ms Adams and Mr Goff said they were both looking forward to seeing how Housing First Auckland would deliver for Auckland’s homeless population.

Auckland recently had a discussion with visiting expert Dr Tsemberis about housing first and homelessness  – view the conversation here.