Government announces major funding boost for Housing First

The Government has announced a major funding boost to tackle homelessness.

As part of Budget 2019, the Housing First programme will be expanded to help extra 1044 long-term homeless people into permanent homes.

In total, the Government is investing $197 million to strengthen the Housing First programme, including $94 million in new spending. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it's the largest Government investment ever in addressing 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."

The Housing First model works by moving people into housing then provide wraparound services to support them.

"Housing First is all about breaking the cycle," Ardern says.

"It recognises that most long-term homeless people have 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.

"It turns lives around by housing them and then connecting them with health and social services such as mental health counselling, budgeting advice, and drug and alcohol addiction treatment."

Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says the past three winters have seen record numbers of homeless on city streets throughout the country.

"Homelessness is the sharp end of the housing crisis. Our Government wants to stop people falling through the cracks and becoming homeless in the first place," he says.

"While we're making good progress, the housing crisis was created over a decade and isn't going to be fixed overnight. We still have work to do."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the Government's announcement, hoping much of the money will come to his city.

"This extra funding will mean we can provide more homes for those who need them the most," he says.

"Homelessness is a growing problem in Auckland, with last year's homelessness count estimating that around 800 people in the region are living without shelter, on the street or in cars, with thousands more in temporary accommodation.

"I'd like to see a significant amount of the funding announced today come to Auckland where we have the most need."