Dramatic and continuing improvements for people housed by The People’s Project

Being supported to find a home and then receiving ongoing specialised support services are the key combination to significantly improving the wellbeing of people who have experienced homelessness, researchers say.

These are the findings of a University of Otago-led study of health, income, and justice outcomes for 387 people in the first five years after they were housed by Housing First service, The People’s Project.

The People’s Project was set up in Hamilton in 2014 as a response to growing visible homelessness in the city. There is a second service in Tauranga. The Wise Group leads The People’s Project, working alongside key organisations in both cities.
Participants in the study were supported into housing between 2014 and 2017 by the People’s Project based in Kirikiriroa Hamilton. Researchers looked at which health, justice, welfare, and other services the participants had engaged with over five years and found the group experienced significant ongoing positive effects:

    • 44% drop in hospitalisations
    • 63% drop in in-patient mental health bed-nights
    • 74% drop in residential mental health bed-nights
    • 36% drop in police offences
    • 43% drop in criminal charges
    • A rise in income from both benefits and paid work

For more information about the results, see the full story on The People’s Project website.

The People’s Project Hamilton manager, Dr Carole McMinn, and general manager, Kerry Hawkes, were both involved in the research and are delighted to see that the exceptional five-year results have improved upon the earlier two-year study results.
Hawkes said: “From our experience, we see every day that the Housing First approach works, and that many people’s lives improve over time with consistent specialist support. This research confirms our understanding.”
The study findings contribute significantly to international research on the case for the Housing First approach. The research paper, Five-Year Post-Housing Outcomes for a Housing First Cohort in Aotearoa, New Zealand, has just been published in The International Journal on Homelessness. It is the outcome of a research partnership between The People’s Project, the He Kāinga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme at the University of Otago, Wellington, and the University of Waikato.

Published on: 19 April 2024