Government announces $54m for homelessness initiatives

The Government has announced a $54 million funding package to help prevent and reduce homelessness.

The money will go towards initiatives supporting at-risk individuals and whānau to stay in stable housing.

Making the announcement on Sunday, Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Associate Minister of Housing Kris Faafoi described it as "pragmatic steps towards ending homelessness".

"The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) will be giving targeted support for families with children and people with mental health needs who are living in emergency motel accommodation, or who are at high risk of homelessness," said Sepuloni.

"MSD has identified a distinct group of people that face a range of complex issues that are a barrier to finding and keeping a home of their own, such as mental health and addictions, criminal history, or family violence.

"The Government is investing $31 million over the next four years for 67 intensive case managers and navigators to work with these people and a further $16 million for increased social services."

The intensive case manager will be an MSD staff member dedicated to supporting families experiencing homelessness who have children, people with mental health needs experiencing homelessness, and people with a history of cycling in and out of emergency housing.

Navigators will assist where people need more support than an intensive case manager can offer. They will work with providers, health professionals, and government agencies and community organisations to co-ordinate services and provide on-going support.

Faafoi said the Sustaining Tenancies programme will be expanded to support five new regions and will also be rolled out to private market rentals.

"It ensures that tenants who may be at-risk of losing their tenancy receive practical support to help them get back on track.

"That support includes budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support, with the goal of helping people remain in their existing homes."

According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, 12,311 people were on the waiting list for state and community-provided housing as of August this year - an increase from 11,067 in March.