Find out more about our collective and how we work together using Housing First

About Housing First Auckland

What services are involved in your collective?

We are five providers delivering social housing services using the Housing First approach:

  • Kāhui Tū Kaha (previously Affinity Services) 
  • Lifewise together with Auckland City Mission 
  • LinkPeople 
  • VisionWest 

Affinity works in Central and West Auckland. Lifewise together with Auckland City Mission work in the Auckland City Centre. VisionWest works in West Auckland and LinkPeople works in South Auckland.  

The strength of our collective is its multi-agency approach to providing sustained wrap-around support services. 

As the collective starts to develop and move forward, we will look at the governance that is required to steer and strengthen our work. Additional members will be identified in the coming months and a governance group will be established by June 2017, which could include members from:

  • Ministry of Social Development 
  • Auckland Council
  • Housing New Zealand
  • Work and Income
  • Corrections 
  • New Zealand Police
  • Primary Health
  • Mana Whenua
  • Oranga Tamariki
  • District Health Board Mental Health and Addiction services.

We will also have strong relationships and representation from the community, including local boards and business associations.

Why and when was the Housing First Auckland collective formed?

Homelessness is a complex issue that no single organisation has the ability to solve.

In late 2016, Kāhui Tū Kaha (previously Affinity Services), Lifewise in partnership with Auckland City Mission, LinkPeople and VisionWest were selected by the Ministry of Social Development (after a RFP process) to deliver a two-year Housing First demonstration project in the City Centre, Central, West and South Auckland. 

All providers were selected due to their prior experience in working with people experiencing homelessness, with several providers working for some time within a Housing First framework.

The providers quickly recognised that having the five services working collaboratively and collectively would make a far greater contribution to ending homelessness in Auckland – rather than working in isolation. 

CEs and staff from all five services explored using a Collective Impact model for these Housing First demonstration projects. We met with MSD, with Auckland Council and with the Mayor, and all agreed that operating as a collective will have the greatest impact on addressing homelessness in Auckland over the next two years.

Who will your Housing First services help?

Initially, 472 chronic homeless people over two years. On 31 August 2017, the Government announced funding for another 100 places, bringing the total to 572.  Across the city, community outreach is underway in areas known for rough sleeping including people living in cars and also with people living in boarding houses. We work with individuals of all ages.

How is the Housing First Auckland collective funded?

An important investment has been made by the Ministry of Social Development and Auckland Council for our services to work collectively as a demonstration project over the next two years to deliver Housing First services to 472 chronically homeless people in Auckland. On 31 August, the Government announced funding for an additional 100 places. 

This demonstration project will provide a much better understanding of what resources and expertise we will need to continue our work in future so that we can end homelessness in Auckland. 

Are all parts of Auckland being served the same?

These Housing First contracts are focussed on the City Centre and Central, West and South Auckland.

How does your collective work?

Each of the services work out of their own offices across Auckland City. See our contact us page for the contact details for each service. 

The Housing First Auckland support office will be based in Auckland where the collective will interact with business, the public and media for sharing information, practices, systems, reporting, measurement, governance and Auckland’s Housing First story.

How do you find sustainable, affordable housing?

We have access to a mix of Housing New Zealand stock, community housing stock and private rental accommodation – which one is used depends on the person we are working with, their situation, where they want to live and in what type of housing, and the availability of properties through these different avenues.

Landlords are an incredibly important partner for our Housing First services. We’re well-connected and have roles in our teams dedicated to seeking out and then managing properties on behalf of both public and private landlords. Working in this way, our landlords are absolutely assured that their properties are in very safe hands.

How does someone access your Housing First services?

Housing First is for chronically homeless people with multiple and complex needs. We are being resourced over the next two years to support limited numbers of people to get access to permanent, secure, safe and sustainable housing.  

In some parts of the city we know who these people are and we are working with them, in other parts we are undertaking community outreach in areas known for rough sleeping including people living in cars and also with people living in boarding houses.

To find out more about a service in your area, please get in touch with:

What can Housing First Auckland learn from the Hamilton story?

The People’s Project in Hamilton was the first large-scale researched pilot of the Housing First approach in New Zealand. The community came together to end homelessness.

Key to success for Hamilton was shared governance across sectors. This included providers, government agencies, Council, iwi and business including real estate sector representation. 

In its first two years’ The People’s Project helped and homed 843 people with 95.8% remaining in their homes. In addition, The People’s Project located itself centrally in the city, among the population it served. 

The People’s Project partnered with research teams from Otago and Waikato Universities to investigate the feasibility, impact and economic case for providing housing to homeless people using the Housing First approach in New Zealand. This research is still underway. 

How are we evaluating our work?

Housing First Auckland is taking a Collective Impact approach to ending homelessness in Auckland. You can find out more about Collective Impact on the Tamarack Institute’s website: www.tamarackcommunity.ca

One of the foundations for Collective Impact is shared measurement as part of a robust learning and evaluation process.

Our backbone team has developed an evaluation framework for the collective to capture our learning as we develop and implement Housing First. This work also includes developing consistent data capture systems and definitions, and shared reporting processes and practices.

Our evaluation will include a specific Kaupapa Māori strand because one of the key questions is how to optimise Housing First for Māori in the Auckland context.

A reference group of experts is providing guidance for our evaluation and includes representatives from MSD, Auckland Council, Te Matapihi, He Kainga Oranga, University of Otago and the Independent Statutory Māori Board.

About the Housing First approach

What is the Housing First approach?

Successful in Canada, the USA, Europe, the United Kingdom and now in Hamilton New Zealand, Housing First recognises that it is easier for people to address issues such as mental health and substance use, once they are housed. The priority is to quickly move people into appropriate housing and then immediately provide wrap-around services to support their success. Permanent, secure, appropriate, safe housing is recognised as a basic human right. The goal of Housing First is to end homelessness - not to manage it. Find out more about the principles of Housing First.

What are the principles of the Housing First approach?

Housing First is based on the premise that housing is a basic human right. There are no preconditions to receiving housing. The approach focuses on client-led recovery, choice of housing and supports, a separation of housing and support services, community and social integration and the availability of wrap-around support for as long as it is needed.
For more information about the five principles of Housing First, see our Housing First page

What are wrap-around services?

Many homeless people have multiple and complex needs. These can include physical and mental health issues and addictions. Wrap-around services are provided through flexible, community-based supports to enable a person to increase their well-being and eventually return to independent living, including returning to work.

Wrap-around support can include everything from health, mental health, addiction, employment, legal and budgetting services, to community engagement,  social support, spiritual connection or reconnection, family connection and reconnection and exploring arts and creativity.

What are multiple and complex needs?

Multiple and complex needs are persistent and interrelated health and or social care needs, which impact an individual’s life and ability to function in society. These may include:

  • long-term street homelessness, or being otherwise vulnerably housed
  • mental, psychological or emotional health needs
  • drug or alcohol dependency
  • contact with the criminal justice system
  • physical health needs
  • experience of domestic violence, abuse and trauma. 

Mainstream services are often not equipped to support individuals with these overlapping needs. Housing First has been shown to be effective in supporting people with histories of street homelessness where contact with services has been unsuccessful in breaking the cycle of instability.

There is also scope to use Housing First to help prevent homelessness among people with multiple and complex needs who may be at risk of becoming homelessness.

Does Housing First work for everyone?

Housing First is an evidence-based approach. In clinical trials carried out around the world, the results consistently confirm that 80 per cent of people who receive Housing First services retain their housing and do not return to homelessness (in The People’s Project in Hamilton more than 95 per cent of people have retained their housing).  

There is however a small group of people who do not respond positively to Housing First services,  particularly the first time they work with services. The difference is that the Housing First approach means services take a long-term view to working with these people to try and achieve a positive outcome. Housing First services do not give up. 

How long does a person stay in a Housing First service?

It all depends on the person, their situation and the complexity of their needs. Some people who reconnect with strong natural supports, such as close family and friends, move on to independent living more quickly than others with multiple and complex needs who will stay in the service for as long as they need it.

Can Housing First work in cities like Auckland where there are housing supply and affordability issues?

Affordable housing in a pressurised market is challenging for any community.  

However, the Housing First approach has been proven to work in some of the largest cities around the world, including New York, Detroit, Glasgow and Calgary, and in countries including Denmark, Finland, Sweden and France, which have well-developed social systems like New Zealand’s. 

Social and housing policy can feed into and contribute to the success of Housing First in big cities.  In New Zealand, the Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Strategy includes complementary initiatives for Auckland such as the Social Housing Reform programme, more funding for social housing developments and funding for extra social housing placements (find out more about the Government’s social housing initiatives). 

The wrap-around support and multi-agency approach of Housing First ensures that in large cities services develop and sustain a network of local area community private landlords and real estate companies to support the programme, along with access to community and Government housing to ensure the widest possible pool of housing.  

Ensuring a good understanding of the proportion of unoccupied housing and untapped potential that exists is also important in large cities. This is one way that the wider community can contribute to ending homeless – by helping identify vacant properties so that services can approach landlords, for example.

Does Housing First mean we don't need emergency housing anymore?

No – it does not mean this. The evidence tells us that access to permanent housing works best, but emergency housing plays an important role in the housing continuum before people enter a Housing First service. It is particularly important when people are in crisis so that we can respond to their need’s immediately by keeping them safe and off the street. 

But it is important that people do not get stuck in emergency housing – its purpose is a short-term response before people can move on to sustainable, permanent housing, with support. 

In Auckland, where there is a housing shortage, there will be a need for emergency housing services for some time to come as part of a whole system approach, that allows people to move through the housing continuum.

About homelessness

What is your definition of homelessness?

Housing First Auckland adopts the Statistics New Zealand definition of homelessness.

"Living situations where people with no other options to acquire safe and secure housing are: without shelter, in temporary accommodation, sharing accommodation with a household or living in uninhabitable housing.”

For some people, homelessness means sleeping rough on the street or living in cars. For others, it could involve couch-surfing or house-jumping with friends or acquaintances.

What is your definition of ending homelessness?

Housing First Auckland adopts the Western Massachusetts Network’s definition of what it means to end homelessness:

"Homelessness in Auckland will end when it becomes “rare, brief and non-recurring.” 

How big is the homeless problem in New Zealand?

Based on Statistics New Zealand's definition of homelessness, data from the 2013 census and research by Dr Kate Amore at Otago University (2016), around 41,705 people, or one in every 100 people, are severely housing deprived in New Zealand.

These statistics include all three categories of homelessness that people experience – chronic homeless, episodically homeless and transitionally homeless. Find out more about homelessness.

How big is the homeless problem in Auckland?

Around 20,296 homeless people are in the greater Auckland region – this is nearly half of the country’s 41,705 homeless population (Dr Kate Amore, Otago University, 2016).

How many people are chronically homeless or rough sleepers in Auckland?

Auckland City Mission’s 2016 annual street count of rough sleepers within three kilometres of the Sky Tower, found 177 people and a further 51 people in emergency accommodation or hospital who would otherwise have been on the street. This was an annual increase of over 50 per cent.

But outside of the city centre, the fact is we don’t know how many people are sleeping rough or are chronically homeless across Auckland.

At the end of September 2017, there were 3,153 people in Auckland on the Social Housing Register. However, there are many people who are not on this register and we know the problem is much bigger than this. The 2018 Point In Time count of homelessness in Auckland will help government, the Council and the wider Auckland community better understand the extent of chronic homeless in Auckland, so that we can all continue working together to end it.

In 2018, we intend to do the first Point in Time count of homelessness right across Auckland city. Planning for this is currently underway.

However, there are many people who are not on this register and we know the problem is much bigger than this. Our work will help the Government, the Council and the wider Auckland community better understand the extent of chronic homeless in Auckland. 

How can we find out the size and nature of homelessness in Auckland?

With the support of Auckland Council, Housing First Auckland has begun planning for the first Point in Time count which will be carried out in 2018 right across Auckland City. A Point in Time count is integral to the successful delivery of a Housin First approach because it will increase our understanding of the scale and nature of homelessness in Auckland.

This work builds on the annual street count undertaken by Auckland City Mission since 2004, which focusses on people sleeping rough in the city centre within a 3km radius of Sky City.

The 2018 count will expand to include all of Auckland and will also aim to capture the city’s hidden homeless (for example, people who are couch surfing or living in uninhabitable dwellings).

These are some of the main benefits of a Point-in-Time count.

  • Getting a better understanding of the number of homeless people in Auckland, which will support better planning for the resources required to end homelessness (so that instances of homelessness are rare, brief and non-recurring for people).
  • Highlighting important groups who could be worked with early on to prevent homelessness happening: i.e. people coming out of care, or being discharged from corrections or health.
  • Providing insights into the nature of the homelessness experienced by Aucklanders. This is critical for informing the development of programmes to respond to the diversity of needs and severity.
  • Obtaining baseline information on homelessness using a consistent methodology year-on-year will allow us to more accurately measure change and Auckland’s progress towards ending homelessness.
  • Potentially gathering information which could be used to identify individuals most in need of support and then connect them to services.

How much does it cost to end homelessness in New Zealand?

In New Zealand we don’t know what the exact cost of ending homelessness is because there are many types of homelessness. Global research shows that it is significantly cheaper to provide appropriate, secure housing and in-home support than to continue providing the same person with sporadic ongoing emergency and institutional assistance. 

Researchers at Otago University have estimated the approximate cost of social services for a homeless person in New Zealand is $65,000 per year. This is how much it costs for someone to cycle in and out of the courts, accident and emergency and other services. Internationally, housing people and providing them with appropriate wrap-around services has shown to have saved as much as half the cost of caring for them on the streets.