Govt fronting up with $9m to address homeless problem with two new schemes

The Government is putting nine million dollars into programmes over the next two years to support the most vulnerable New Zealanders with their housing needs.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett. Source: 1 NEWS

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says there are two main initiatives:

• $3m for a Housing First programme which first moves people into housing and then provides support to address issues relating to their homelessness.

The confronting Auckland City Mission video aims to offer a realistic view of life on the streets. Source: Supplied

• $6m for Better Housing Outcomes - a range of solutions to prevent homelessness. Up to $1 million of this fund will support families who could either look towards home ownership or are able to move into private rental accommodation and free up a social house.

The Housing First initiative will operate in central, west and south Auckland.

"Too many families are being evicted due to rent arrears, anti-social behaviour or an overall inability to cope, they can end up in emergency housing or in insecure living circumstances," says Ms Bennett.

Homeless Auckland woman Queenie Peihopa was committed to working and attending kura but she's had to give up on kura to look for a home. Source: 1 NEWS

Community organisations will be invited to submit proposals to work with the Government's funding initiatives.

One group already offering the Housing First approach is the People's Project in Hamilton and it has welcomed what it says is the Government's endorsement of Housing First.

Clare Caldwell says there is no shortage of talent, but many of her students never previously had the chance to pick up a brush. Source: 1 NEWS

People's Project leader, Julie Nelson, says: "The priority is to rapidly move people into appropriate housing and immediately provide wrap-around services to address the issues that have led to someone's homelessness."

Paula Bennett's office says the $9m set aside for the new initiatives is the reallocation of money that wasn't spent on income-related rents last year.

Ms Bennett expects the funding will help community organisations to work with around 2000 people who are homeless or having difficulty holding on to their tenancies.

Housing First was a programme launched in Los Angeles in 1988 in response to an increase in homelessness.

The opposition Labour Party says the Government's latest $9 million initiatives are more last minute policy.

Labour Leader Andrew Little says the funding is "much-needed help for the homeless but smacks of yet another last minute, short-sighted and piecemeal decision".

And Mr Little says it's unclear why Ms Bennett didn't announce the funding two months ago as part of emergency housing policy in the Budget.