The announcement of further government funding for long-term homeless underpins the Housing First programme being taken seriously according to Tauranga's service provider, The People's Project.

In a pre-Budget announcement Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government would spend almost $200 million on housing 2700 long-term homeless people.

Some $197m had been allocated over four years - $103m to support the existing operation of Housing First and $94m for expansion.

However, People's Project service manager Simone Cuers said specific details of the investment and how it would be distributed across New Zealand, including for Tauranga, were yet to come.


The internationally acclaimed Housing First programme was rolled out in Tauranga in June last year after its national introduction in Hamilton in 2014 and 2017 Auckland pilot.

Housing First is a collective response to homelessness. It offers people immediate access to housing with "wraparound" health and welfare services, as required, backing up the placements.

According to government figures released on Sunday, 71 Tauranga households have been accepted into Housing First with 34 having been housed. Nationally 1064 have been accepted and 720 housed.

Cuers said of the 71 households registered, some had since left.

"We are currently working with 51 active clients. In addition to these people we've also provided assistance to around 180 people who have walked through our door but did not fit the criteria for our service.

"We have provided these folk with some general advice and guidance to help them in their search for a home."

Tommy Wilson. Photo / File
Tommy Wilson. Photo / File

Cuers said the biggest challenge faced in Tauranga was finding properties.

"We could house all the people we are working with today if we had access to suitable, affordable housing and particularly social housing.


"In the meantime most of the housing we have sourced is from the private rental market. We have a couple of property managers from local real estate agents who are very supportive of the people we are working with and who actively send through available rentals for our consideration when they can."

She said some of the health and welfare issues being seen in Tauranga by Housing First staff were poverty, people living with the consequences of experiencing significant trauma in their lives, mental health challenges and substance use and addiction.

Te Tuinga Whanau Social Services Trust executive director Tommy Kapai Wilson agreed the additional government funding was great news but questioned how much of the money would be seen "at the frontline".

"How much of that money will be available to those of us working with the homeless," Wilson said.

"Winter is coming and there will be an increase of people needing help.

"I am encouraged by the additional funds but that is tempered with questions that need answers."

In her announcement Ardern said Budget 2019 would provide funding to strengthen the programme in Tauranga, Rotorua, Whangarei, mid-Far North, Auckland, Hamilton, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and the Hutt, Nelson, Blenheim and Christchurch.