Successful in Canada, the USA, Europe, the United Kingdom and now in multiple parts of 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 move people into appropriate housing and then immediately provide wrap-around services to support their success. The goal of Housing First Ōtautahi is to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Housing First Ōtautahi 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.

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, budgeting services, to community engagement, social support, spiritual connection, family connection and reconnection and exploring arts and creativity.

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 homeless.

Housing First is an evidence-based approach. In clinical trials carried out around the world, the results consistently confirm that 80 percent of people who receive Housing First services retain their housing and do not return to homelessness.

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 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.

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 needs immediately by keeping them safe and off the street.

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.

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.

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 estimates 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 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.

Comcare Trust
Te Whare Roimata
Emerge Aotearoa
Christchurch City Mission
Christchurch Methodist Church