The goal of Housing First is to end homelessness – not to manage it. Permanent, secure, safe housing is recognised as a basic human right. Housing First gives people housing first and then follows with wrap-around support.

Housing is a basic human right

Housing First recognises housing is a basic human right, and so there are no preconditions to receiving housing. The programme helps people experiencing chronic homelessness in the city centre. Housing First gives people power to lead their recovery, choice and access to wrap-around support for as long as they need it.

Our approach is collaborative

The Auckland City Centre Housing First Programme is a partnership between Lifewise and the Auckland City Mission. Our two organisations share a commitment to end homelessness. Together, we have more than 100 years’ experience working with people experiencing homelessness and hardship in central Auckland.

The nature of homelessness is complex. Long-term homelessness in the city centre brings additional challenges. To be effective, our response must be a collective endeavour.

Our programme has a strong kaupapa Māori approach. We designed it with Tangata Whenua and the street community at every step. This includes the involvement of people with lived experience of homelessness. Their participation means the voice of the ‘rough sleeper’ community is incorporated from the outset.

We also work alongside partners from Auckland Council, Ministry of Social Development, Housing New Zealand, DHBs, Iwi and other NGOs. Airedale Property Trust has partnered with us to locate and lease the housing and provide tenancy management and support.

A model for success

The Housing First model is succeeding in many different communities. The same principles remain at its core.

  • Focus on recovery and self-sufficiency; a safe environment is crucial to recovery
  • Maximise people’s choice
  • Provide immediate access to housing in the community
  • Separate housing and support services
  • Focus on reducing harm
  • Offer chances for joining social and cultural events

The programme keeps growing to match the need

Work on the programme began in June 2016. By the end of July that year, the government announced $3 million of funding for Housing First in Auckland.

The Housing Minister at the time, Paula Bennett, said, “I am particularly pleased to be supporting the Housing First initiative. This locally-based homeless strategy will operate in Central, West and South Auckland.”

In 2020, Housing First provided 60 people with rapid access to permanent housing with flexible community-based support.

Download a PDF of The Story of Housing First

We co-designed Te Pou Tuatahi o Tāmaki: Housing First Auckland City Centre

In June 2020, a small team at Lifewise ran a design sprint. They set out to meet the growing housing and support needs of people struggling to sustain their tenancies in the Lifewise Housing First programme. Nine Housing First whānau were directly involved.

Here is the record of our design process. It describes each stage of the design sprint and the discoveries we made found along the way.

Housing First Plus

Housing First Plus is prototype for a small scale housing option. It will include permanent housing, 24/7 on-site support and management, a cultural focus, community development, communal meeting areas and activity spaces.

Housing First whānau were involved in stages of the design process. They helped to iterate and develop each of the prototypes. Lifewise is incredibly grateful to all of those who contributed.


More information about Housing First

These websites have more information about Housing First:

Housing First Auckland

Pathways Housing

Housing First Toolkit

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Learn more about Housing First

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