An initiative that aims to house 40 ''chronically homeless'' people a year will offer them more than a roof over their heads.
Whangārei's Housing First scheme will also offer wraparound services tailored to suit the individual needs of the people it houses.
The aim is that once they are off the streets or out of emergency housing, other social and health support will kick in immediately.
The scheme's name, Kāinga Pūmanawa, was revealed at a launch yesterday at Terenga Paraoa Mārae in Whangārei.
Spokesperson Liz Cassidy-Nelson said Housing First was not just about getting people into their own homes; it was equally about follow-up with specific help and connecting with key stakeholders. Those stakeholders will include local landlords and real estate agencies to broaden the available housing stock.
Whangārei's crisis includes hundreds of people waiting to get into state/social housing as well as those who live rough in parks, cars or under bridges.
One person has already been placed in housing and is in 'wraparound' in the Whangārei scheme.
''We are applying kaupapa Māori framework and whānau ora principles to enhance the sound and proven Housing First model,'' Cassidy-Nelson said.
The ''sound and proven'' model has been widely used in other countries and is a recognised successful approach to working with people who have been homeless for a long time. Housing First schemes, slightly varied to suit their communities' needs, are already operating in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch.
Kāinga Pūmanawa will be managed by a three-provider collective of Kahui Tū Kaha, One Double Five Community House and Ngāti Hine Health Trust - which have long worked with homelessness and often associated issues such as mental health.
While the scheme's likely cost hasn't been disclosed at this stage, it will be paid for through a government fund set up to target the housing crisis. Rents and some costs will connect to the clients' existing Work and Income benefits.
Another partner is Whangārei District Council, although not directly financially.
Mayor Sheryl Mai said it was an honour to see the scheme launched: ''I'm a huge supporter of this initiative.''
Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi beamed in via a screen to congratulate the organisations - ''the champions'' - who have worked together to create a local solution.
Faafoi said dealing with the housing crisis was a priority for the Government but it was not something any single agency could deal with on its own.
The Government has made significant investment in housing — more than $800 million in Budget 2018, $500m in Budget 2019 and an additional $54m through the recently announced homelessness package, Faafoi said.
''Budget 2019 also provided $40m more for Māori housing and this funding will help more whānau access healthy, affordable, secure homes.
"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.''
Kāinga Pūmanawa will have a peer-support component.
Rob Smith, formerly from Kaikohe, was once homeless and is now working for Lifewise, an Auckland central Housing First programme run by the Methodist Mission.
''I'm a former rough sleeper, and I got help from Lifewise. I got out of my situation and 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.''
With him were John MacDonald and Paul Timinis, from Lifewise.
Timinis said homeless people needed ''supporting from alongside''; they did not need to be further marginalised by stigma, or ''myths'' , including that they want to live on the streets. Having a home to call their own was the first step out of that stigma.
Among the about 100 people at the launch was Heather Hallmond, from the Māori Women's Welfare League Whangārei, which is also affiliated to the scheme.
''We have worked on the problem, tried to help and been researching homelessness since 1951 when Dame Whina Cooper set up the league. We're still doing it but we haven't been able to put people in their own kāinga.''
• 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; Ngāti Hine Health Trust provides a wide range of integrated whānau ora services in Northland.