The Wellbeing Budget

Taking mental health seriously

A solution to homelessness

The Wellbeing Budget will mean the internationally-acclaimed Housing First programme will be able to reach 2,700 homeless people and help them into permanent homes.

Research by the University of Otago found that chronically homeless people have high mental health needs.17 It found that in the five years before being housed, 390 people seen by the People's Project in Hamilton had spent a total of 10,000 bed nights in mental health facilities – that's about a month per person. They were also given 55,000 prescriptions, most commonly for anti-psychotic and antidepressant medicines.

The Housing First programme understands that it is easier for people to address their issues once they have a home. That's why they house them, then support them to address their issues by connecting them with services such as counselling and addiction treatment, helping them to keep their homes and avoid ending up back on the streets.

Budget 2019 is investing $197 million over four years into Housing First, which will fund 1,044 new places.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says the funding announced in the Wellbeing Budget will raise the number of people the programme can help to 2,700.

"Housing First has housed 720 households, including 431 children in Auckland alone, since 2017.

"It is now helping house long-term homeless people in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Tauranga and Rotorua, and will launch in Northland, Hawke's Bay, Nelson/Blenheim and Wellington later this year."

Footnotes

17. Associate Professor Nevil Pierse, Co-Director He Kainga Oranga, Department of Public Health, University of Otago (Wellington). Not yet published, accessed with permission from the author.

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