A Whangārei Housing First initiative which will provide homes for the homeless then provide them with support services has been officially launched.

The scheme, called Kāinga Pūmanawa, was launched at Terenga Paraoa Mārae this morning.

Aiming to get 40 ''chronically homeless'' people a year into housing then provide wraparound support services tailored individually, Kāinga Pūmanawa will be managed by a collective of Kahui Tū Kaha, One Double Five Community House and Ngati Hine Health Trust, in partnership with the funding Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and with Whangārei District Council support.

One person has already been placed in housing in the brand new Whangārei scheme.


Among others speaking at its unveiling and official naming, Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi beamed in via the video screen to congratulate the organisations - ''the champions'' - which have worked together to create this local solution to homelessness.

While no figure is available yet on the local costs, Kāinga Pūmanawa will be paid for through a Government fund targeted at the housing crisis.

 Chris Faafoi, Associate Housing Minister: ''Champions'' have worked together to create a local solution to homelessness. Photo / File
Chris Faafoi, Associate Housing Minister: ''Champions'' have worked together to create a local solution to homelessness. Photo / File

"The Government has already made significant investment in housing which received over $800m in Budget 2018, $500m in Budget 2019 and an additional $54m through the recently announced Homelessness package. Budget 2019 also provided $40m more for Māori housing and this funding will help more whānau access healthy, affordable, secure homes,'' Faafoi said.

"We firmly believe that every New Zealander has a right to a secure, safe and dry home.
When people are homeless it strips them of their dignity and hope. We, as a government, won't accept that.''

The Housing First model is an internationally recognised approach to working with people who have been homeless for a long time.

It also relies on peer-support, with some people who have experience of being homeless now working for the programme. One is Rob Smith, formerly from Kaikohe, who works for Lifewise, an Auckland central Housing First programme.

''I'm a former rough sleeper, and I got help from Lifewise. I got out of my situation and I took the opportunity to change my life. I couldn't have on my own. Now I'm a peer support worker,'' Smith said.

''This energy here today, the goodwill and determination, is reflective of where I am in my life.''


Speakers at the launch reiterated that homelessness was a complex issue that no single organisation could solve, and homelessness did not just mean living in parks, cars or under bridges. Whangārei's housing crisis includes hundreds of other people waiting to get into state/social housing as well as those who live rough.

Kāinga Pūmanawa spokesperson Liz Cassidy-Nelson said Housing First was not just about getting people into decent buildings; it was equally about immediate follow-up with tailored help for individuals, and connecting them with key stakeholders. Those stakeholders include local landlords and real estate agencies to broaden the available housing stock.

''We are applying kaupapa Māori framework and whānau ora principles to enhance the sound and proven Housing First model,'' Cassidy-Nelson said.

Kahui Tū Kaha, a Ngāti Whātua agency, provides social housing and mental health services; One Double Five Community House offers assistance through the Open Arms day centre, food provision, whānau support and other community development schemes; Ngati Hine Health Trust provides a wide range of integrated whānau ora services in Northland.