The Government’s new $54 million programme to tackle New Zealand's homelessness "should’ve happened a long time ago", Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said.
The Government yesterday announced funding, which includes $31 million over the next four years for 67 intensive case managers and navigators to work with people and a further $16 million for increased social services. It goes towards an initiative called the Sustaining Tenancies Programme.
Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi told TVNZ1's Breakfast today the new case managers, contracted by the Ministry of Social Development, will help "complex families" engage with different agencies.
"What these social workers will do is navigate these people, whether it be health, whether it be MSD, and make sure that they're looked after so they can stay in the tenancy or the house we got them in.
"It's pretty simple stuff actually that should've happened a long time ago."
Mr Faafoi said many of those living on the street were vulnerable and have complex issues, including addiction problems and mental health problems.
The programme compliments the Government’s existing investment in the Housing First Programme, which gets people into homes before tackling those other issues.
"What we're trying to do is get them set up properly so they don't go back into a cycle of homelessness," Mr Faafoi said.
"We want to prevent homelessness, but if it does happen we want to stop it reoccurring, and making sure that we've got the right health professionals, budget experts, making sure that quite simply people can help them look after their properties so their landlords can have a good relationship with them."
Mr Faafoi said it was "some of the simple stuff I think we can at least do to make sure that some of these extremely complex families stay in their homes, or if we're putting them into a home we set them up so they can stay in it".
"A little bit of investment before someone is kicked out a of a tenancy can actually save a hell of a lot of money in the long run if they become homeless."