A woman who works with Tauranga's homeless is "delighted" to hear a new service dedicated to rough sleepers will be up and running in the CBD by April.
Tracey Carlton, one of a team of volunteers who run twice-weekly Milo nights for Tauranga's hungry, said they were "so excited" to hear a Housing First service for Tauranga had been approved.
"It's just such a positive thing."
Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development Jenny Salesa announced yesterday The People's Project would establish an office in Tauranga's CBD.
The Ministry of Social Development has funded the service to work with 100 rough sleepers over the next two years.
Project spokeswoman Julie Nelson said their model was built around international evidence that found the best way to end homelessness was to get people into permanent homes as a first step.
She said they rolled out the model in Hamilton three years ago and have since supported 867 people into 486 households.
The first step to bring the service to Tauranga would be to set up an office in the CBD and recruit local staff.
Nelson said they would work closely with Tauranga's emergency, transitional and community housing providers to "support people through the housing continuum".
"There is a need for all our services to work together as part of a whole of systems approach."
The project's successes in Hamilton earned them an invitation to Tauranga last year from Our Community Project, a multi-agency group looking for a solution to end homelessness in the city.
Group chairwoman Steph O'Sullivan said the increase in rough sleepers in the city had deeply concerned the community.
"We've acted as a community, taken a partnership approach and through sheer determination supported and championed the need for a long-term solution to rough sleeping in Tauranga."
Tauranga City councillor Leanne Brown said it was great the Government had acknowledged the real need in Tauranga for this sort of intensive support.
She was confident the service would bring positive change but said it would not happen overnight.
"It's going to be a marathon, not a sprint but this is the catalyst we needed to help us get out of the starting blocks."
The council has begun investigating introducing a bylaw to ban begging and rough sleeping in Tauranga's CBD, provided there were other services to refer them to.
Tommy Wilson of emergency housing provider Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust said "any whare for rough sleepers or homeless" was good news, but he was not sure how the new service would work in with those already here.
"We already have a great service for those rough sleepers - the nightshelter and Te Tuinga Whanau. I think we do a pretty good job already."
He hoped the newcomer would engage with iwi services such as Te Tuinga, as he knew from experience working with Tauranga's homeless that 80 to 90 per cent of their clients would be Maori.