The Government will spend almost $200 million on housing 2700 long-term homeless people in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the pre-Budget announcement at a community centre in Glen Eden today as the single largest Government investment in tackling chronic homelessness.
"We are committed to tackling homelessness. That's why we have made it an investment priority for the second year in a row by boosting support for the internationally-acclaimed programme Housing First even further."
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.
Partners include Auckland City Mission, Link People, Comcare Trust, Te Taumata O Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust, and Lifewise.
$197 million has been allocated over four years. $103 million is to support the existing operation of Housing First and $94 million is for expansion.
The money covers both the cost of housing and the cost of the support services.
It comes as part of the Government's first Wellbeing Budget.
"I cannot think of an announcement that really captures the idea of wellbeing more than [today's announcement]," Ardern said.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the Government's announcement of more funding.
"Homelessness is unacceptable in any society. There is a huge social cost and extra funding provided by Government means that we can do more to tackle and eliminate homelessness in Auckland."
Goff hoped a "significant amount" of the funding would come to Auckland, where there was the most need.
"Since launching Housing First, Auckland Council and a collective of five agencies have housed 922 people, including 436 children, who were homeless. This extra funding will mean we can provide more homes for those who need them the most."
Ardern said the programme recognised that most long-term homeless people had a number of complex problems such as mental health issues and addictions; and that they have a much higher chance of addressing them once they are housed.
The Government funds the programme in Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton and Rotorua. The extra money will support the service in those areas and expand it into other centres, including Wellington, Whangarei, Hawke's Bay, Nelson and Blenheim.
"Housing is a basic human right and allows people to love with dignity," the Prime Minister said.
She added that the Government was committed to tackling homelessness which is why it has made priority housing for homeless a priority.
"Budget 2019 is continuing to invest in Housing First and funding 1044 new places. This will raise the number of people the programme can help to 2700," Jacinda Ardern said.
"Homelessness is the sharp end of the housing crisis," Ardern said.
She added that the Government has made almost 1000 transitional housing places available since it started it first term in 2017.
She said the Government is "well on track" to provide 6400 more public housing places by 2022.
Although this was described as "good progress", Twyford said the housing crisis was not going to be fixed overnight – "we still have work to do".
The Green Party have welcomed the announcement, with Co-Leader Marama Davidson saying it was important the Government supports organisations that tackle homelessness.
"We know that homelessness is getting worse. Housing is a basic right. It is crucial to our health and wellbeing, and our ability to participate in a community."