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 housing and supporting people who are experiencing homelessness and multiple, high and complex needs.

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

The approach is to provide housing quickly, then offer tailored support for as long as it is needed to help people stay housed and address the underlying support needs that led to their experience of homelessness.

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

Budget 2019 funding ensures that these existing Housing First programmes are sustainable and can continue to deliver services for more than 2,700 people and whānau over the next few years.

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 underlying issues that resulted in long-term homelessness. 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 five 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, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, 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 people experiencing homelessness, find houses, manage tenancies and properties, provide social support services and connect with other frontline services.
  • Private landlords, iwi, community housing providers and Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities 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 is now in Christchurch, Tauranga, Rotorua, Hamilton, Blenheim, Wellington and Whangarei.

Housing First will also be operational in Napier and Hastings, Nelson and the mid-far north in the coming months.


Housing First was launched in Auckland by the following collective of providers in 2017:

  • 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, Te Whare Roimata and Christchurch City Mission. The programme has been operating since May 2018.


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

The People's Project in Hamilton has been fully funded from August 2018 to house and support up to 218 people and whānau in Hamilton.


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

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

The People's Project


Housing first in Rotorua is delivered by a partnership led by Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake with Lifewise and LinkPeople.

The service started on 1 May 2019,  and these providers are funded to deliver housing and support for up to 105 people and whānau in Rotorua.


Christchurch Methodist Mission leads the Housing First Programme in Blenheim, in partnership with Gateway Housing Trust, St Marks Addiction Residential Treatment Centre, Maataa Waka Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust.

The service commenced in July 2019 and is funded to house and support up to 40 people and whānau in Blenheim.


Two Housing First programmes are operating in Wellington, with both becoming operational in July 2019.

Kahungunu Whānau Services leads one service in the Wellington and Hutt Region. They are funded to house and support up to 50 people and whānau.

DCM leads the second service in partnership with Emerge Aotearoa, Wellington Night Shelter and Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust. The partnership is funded to house and support up to 150 people and whānau in Wellington and the Hutt.


Housing First Whangarei, known as Kāinga Pūmanawa, is a collective made up of Ngāti Hine Health Trust, One Double Five Community Trust and Kāhui Tū Kaha.  The service started on the July 1st 2019 and is funded to house and support up to 80 people and whānau in Whangarei.

Napier and Hastings

Whatever it Takes Charitable Trust, Emerge Aotearoa and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga are working together to deliver the Housing First programme in Napier and Hastings. They are funded to house and support up to 50 people and whānau in Napier and Hastings. The service was launched in December 2019.


The Salvation Army (TSA) supported by Te Piki Oranga, Gateway Housing Trust and The Male Room is delivering 50 Housing First places in the Nelson Tasman area. The service was launched in  December 2019.

Housing First and Budget 2019

Budget 2019 provides funding to strengthen the Housing First programmes in Whangarei, mid-far North, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay, Wellington and the Hutt, Nelson, Blenheim and Christchurch.

It will increase the service to a further 1,044 people and whānau in high need areas. In total, $197 million is being invested to strengthen the Housing First programme.

Published: May 18, 2020