Housing First

Warm, safe housing is a basic human right. Access to housing is the first step in addressing homelessness. Housing First aims to end homelessness - not just manage it.

About Housing First

Housing First is a proven, internationally recognised approach to house and support homeless people with multiple, high and complex needs.

Housing First recognises it is much easier for people to address complex issues such as mental health problems and addiction once they are housed.

The approach is to provide housing quickly then offer tailored support for as long as it’s needed to help people stay housed and address the issues that led to their homelessness.

Evidence shows that this model has been especially effective in helping homeless people with high and complex needs stay housed and lead healthier, safer lives.

HUD funds Housing First programmes to support up to 1,450 people or households in areas of high need across New Zealand.

Housing First offers immediate access to housing. It does not require people to meet certain conditions (such as sobriety or mental health treatment) before they qualify for a home.

Access to housing is just the first step in addressing homelessness for people in Housing First. The goal is to help people stay housed and address the issues that kept them homeless. People are holistically supported to make positive steps towards a healthier and safer life, reduce harmful behaviours, set goals, integrate with the community and connect to iwi and whānau.

Housing First core principles

The Housing First model is based on 5 core principles.

Immediate access to housing with no readiness conditions

Housing is offered with no readiness conditions such as sobriety or psychiatric treatment. It just requires a willingness by people to engage with support services and be in housing.

Housing First providers find warm, safe housing that fits the needs of each person — whether that’s a private rental, public housing or supported living. Providers also help manage the tenancy and property.

Consumer choice and self-determination

People have choices about the housing and support that’s right for them. For example, some people may prefer their own self-contained flat or house and need regular visits with a support worker. Others may decide that a supported living arrangement works best for them. Choice may be constrained by availability and affordability.

Individualised and person-centred support

Support is given according to each person’s needs, for as long as needed.

Housing First providers work with a range of health and social services to make sure the person gets the specialist support they need. The supports provided are individualised and person-driven.

Harm reduction and recovery-orientation approach

Recovery focus with holistic support to reduce harmful behaviours and make positive steps towards wellbeing.

Social and community integration

People are encouraged and supported to be part of their communities and connect with whānau, support networks, social activities, education and work.

Working together to end homelessness

Homelessness is a complex issue that no organisation can solve alone.

Housing First providers work with property agents and private landlords, councils, Housing New Zealand (HNZ), HUD, other agencies and a range of health and social services.

  • HUD funds providers to deliver Housing First services and pays rent subsidies for tenants.
  • Housing First providers reach out to homeless people, find houses, manage tenancies and properties, provide social support services and connect with other frontline services.
  • Private landlords, iwi, community housing providers and HNZ provide housing places.
  • Local councils contribute funding and vital support, enhancing the services that providers can offer.
  • Frontline health, mental health, income support, police, education, probation, iwi and community services support and work with people in Housing First.
  • Communities and whānau create connection, belonging and opportunities such as social activities, learning and employment.

Housing First in cities and regions

Housing First launched in Auckland with Government and Auckland Council funding in March 2017, and expanded to Christchurch, Tauranga and Hamilton in 2018.


Housing First Auckland is funded to house and support up to 572 households or people.

The following collective of 5 providers deliver Housing First across the wider city region:

  • Kāhui Tū Kaha
  • Auckland City Mission
  • Lifewise
  • LinkPeople
  • VisionWest.

Housing First Auckland


In Christchurch the Housing First initiative is a collaboration of six organisations: the Christchurch Methodist Mission, Comcare, Otautahi Community Housing Trust, Emerge Aotearoa, the City Mission (Anglican) and Te Whare Roimata. The programme has been operating since May 2018.


In Tauranga, the People’s Project has delivered Housing First in Tauranga since May 2018.

The People’s Project is a subsidiary of the Wise Group, and is funded to house and support up to 100 households or people in Tauranga.

The People's Project


The People's Project also leads the Housing First programme in Hamilton and this has been operational since 2014. 

It is funded to house and support up to 218 households or people in Hamilton.

Expanding into other regions

Housing First is being established in several other regions including:

  • Wellington
  • Rotorua (commencing soon)
  • Napier and Hastings
  • Whangarei and Northland
  • Blenheim and Nelson.

Published: Oct 19, 2018