People helping people, that's what a multimillion-dollar Government programme which launched in Rotorua yesterday is all about.
The Government's solution to homelessness, Housing First, has been officially launched at Rotorua's Te Papaiouru Marae at Ohinemutu yesterday.

It has been roughly six months since Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the programme would be brought to the city.

Housing First aims to permanently house individuals and families who are homeless and support them to remain housed long-term. It's a partnership between Lifewise, Te Taumata O Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust and LinkPeople and is the first iwi-led Housing First Collective in the country.

At the launch, Lifewise chief executive Moira Lawler said it was about people helping people.

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"Housing First is about family and that's what you see here today.

"There's so much we can contribute but also so much we can learn."

Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust general manager Roana Bennett said the journey to the launch had been long.

Iwi leaders welcome stakeholders onto the marae during a pōhiri for Housing First. Photo / Stephen Parker
Iwi leaders welcome stakeholders onto the marae during a pōhiri for Housing First. Photo / Stephen Parker

"Today has come about through a lot of collaboration, effort and goodwill from a lot of different people representing a lot of different organisations.

"There are so many heroes in this journey."

Bennett said everyone was entitled to shelter as a human right.

Lifewise Rotorua regional manager Haehaetu Barrett said the launch of Housing First meant taking a stand as a community.

"We're going to tackle this thing [homelessness] ... and we're going to do it together and we're going to do it with heart.

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"Anyone at any time can experience homelessness. They need to know there's going to be houses, wrap-around support and Housing First is being delivered with mana and integrity," she said.

"Our people need help now. They needed it last year, they needed it the year before."

Stakeholders are welcomed onto the marae during a pōhiri for Housing First. Photo / Stephen Parker
Stakeholders are welcomed onto the marae during a pōhiri for Housing First. Photo / Stephen Parker

Following today's pōhiri, the doors to the programme will officially open tomorrow.

In May 2018, the Government allocated $42.9 million over four years to expand Housing First to a further 550 households in regions including Rotorua, Wellington, Napier-Hastings, Whangarei-Northland and Blenheim-Nelson.

Housing First Rotorua is the fifth of the programmes in the country. By the end of winter there will be 12.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development funds providers to deliver Housing First and pays rent subsidies while providers reach out to homeless, find houses, manage tenancies and properties and provide social support.

About Housing First

• Programme to house and support people who have been homeless long-term or homeless and facing multiple and complex issues.

• Recognises it is easier for people to address issues, such as poor physical or mental health, substance abuse and unemployment, once they are housed.

• Provides housing quickly and then tailored support for as long as required to help people stay housed.