Launched in March 2017, Lifewise and Auckland City Mission are working with mostly single rough sleepers in the City Centre who are known to their services and who have been homeless for many years.
“We’ve had a really good response rate to the programme with 86% of tenancies sustained. The program is re-enforcing that the Housing First Model can and will work to ensure homelessness becomes rare, brief and non-recurring,” says Lifewise CEO Moira Lawler.
To date, participants in the programme have on average been homeless for 14 years, with one person being homeless for 40 years. The youngest is 22 years old, and the oldest is 74 years old.
“We are supporting people who have found it most difficult to get off the streets. Many of our rough sleepers experience mental health issues, substance use and physical health challenges. To focus on recovery and self-sufficiency within a safe environment is a crucial first step,” says Lawler.
A unique aspect of the Housing First Programme is that once housed, the tenants are offered ongoing, personalised support from the Housing First team, to help them sustain their tenancies, address health needs, and to achieve their goals.
The key point of difference in the design of the Housing First City Centre programme is that some of the support workers have lived experience of homelessness. Their involvement, plus the ongoing wraparound support, means tenants are more likely to remain housed and off the streets.
“We have a relationship [with the tenants] that’s been built over the years. I think that relationship has contributed to them being more trusting. … We believe in their mana, we believe in their dignity. We believe in their wairuatanga [spirituality],” says Housing First City Centre Support Worker Awatea.
The Housing First Auckland Collective is a two-year demonstration project to end homelessness for 472 chronically homeless people (adults) in the Auckland region using the internationally proven Housing First model. The Collective is made up of five services working across different areas of the city, including Lifewise, Auckland City Mission, Kāhui Tū Kaha, LinkPeople and VisionWest, supported by Auckland Council and Ministry of Social Development.
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