Housing support services for families / whānau and individuals who have experienced homelessness : a case study of Visionwest Community Trust, West Auckland
Citation:Woolley, L. (2014). Housing support services for families / whānau and individuals who have experienced homelessness : a case study of Visionwest Community Trust, West Auckland. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Social Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2504
Recent research from New Zealand suggests that one in every 120 people in New Zealand are facing homelessness or severe housing deprivation. We also know that many people who are homeless are never counted, living in caravan parks, in overcrowded houses or boarding houses, and are what is often referred to in literature as the ‘hidden homeless’. With an increasing lack of supply of safe, affordable and secure housing in regions such as Auckland and Christchurch, the issue of homelessness is intensifying. This research will look at effective ways of providing housing support services for people who have been homeless, often due to traumatic or complex issues including abuse, relationship breakdowns, addictions, bad debt, mental health, crime, poverty and unemployment. Models of supportive housing are discussed, with a special emphasis on the Housing First model of supportive housing and reviewing the VisionWest Community Trust’s version of the Housing First model. Key themes regarding reasons for homelessness are discussed as are some of the structural and policy issues that underpin homelessness and the interplay of both the systemic and individual issues that face people who are homeless. The research was based on the lived experience of the participants (almost all solo mothers) in 10 houses in VisionWest’s social housing project. All of the participants and their families had been homeless, half without shelter, and the other half living in overcrowded or uninhabitable accommodation, with many having very traumatic and complex histories (abuse, trauma, addiction and imprisonment). The process enabled the participants to share their perspective on some of the issues that have led to homelessness and the change resulting from being part of VisionWest’s supportive housing programme. The research found that providing supportive housing such as VisionWest’s Housing First model is a very successful approach in supporting people out of homelessness, including those with traumatic and complex histories, enabling them to look to their future and the future of their children with a sense of hope based on real social, psychological and economic progress. Based on international literature and information available in New Zealand, it was found that this model costs a fraction of the price associated with other interventions such as emergency housing, prison or health and welfare interventions. It is therefore crucial that government officials, policy makers, funders and community housing providers join together to find innovative solutions for the funding of supportive housing services throughout New Zealand.