Helping people stay in tenancies a ‘critical’ step toward ending homelessness

A programme helping people with complex problems stay in their homes will now expand from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to five other regions. - Photo: RNZ/ Logan Church

The government's new plan to prevent homelessness is being described by service providers as a critical step towards ending the problem.

It is spending $54 million to help people with complex challenges like mental health, addiction and family violence stay in their tenancies.

The Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) has been part of a two year trial helping people with complex problems stay in their homes.

This programme will expand from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to five other regions.

DCM Stephanie McIntyre

Stephanie McIntyre. Photo: Supplied

DCM's director Stephanie McIntyre said once people lose a tenancy it was tough to get back into housing.

"It's actually very difficult if the person has come right out of their tenancy, because then they may be faced with a very lengthy wait and it's enormously difficult to get them into private housing because they don't have the credit record or referees, so they're getting closed out of the private market by more affluent Kiwis," she said.

Another $31 million will be spent over four years for 67 intensive case managers and navigators to give a wrap around service for those needing extra help.

Christchurch City Missioner Matthew Mark said it was always a challenge when people need to engage with multiple agencies at any given time.

"If we can simplify that process, if we can reduce the number of people they're having to engage with and share their story with etc and have a person or a smaller of number of people more effectively leading and guiding, its going to be better on the individual or the family and I believe we will see better outcomes," he said.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said homelessness was a complex problem with no single solution, but the new plan was a step in the right direction.

"This is hitting a particular component of it, it's not the all, but supporting people to stay in tenancies who are very vulnerable often very unwell with complex issues is critical if we are to actually end homelessness, he said.

But Mr Farrelly said the government still needed to address supply problems.

And Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said the government knew there was a problem.

"We're working on the supply problem in terms of 6400 public housing spaces over time, but until those are built or found, we need to make sure those people who are on the edge are looked after so they don't become part of the supply problem too, he said.

The extra services will be phased in around the country from October this year.

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