Housing the homeless is the first step
A University of Otago-led study involving people housed by The People’s Project has shown that providing unconditional access to housing is the first step towards improving the mental and physical health and wellbeing of those experiencing homelessness.
The study looked at the health, income and justice outcomes for 387 people in the first two years after they were housed by The People’s Project, and the results have just been published in the European Journal of Homelessness [PDF].
Dr Carole McMinn, Manager of The People’s Project, Hamilton worked on the study as part of her PhD research at the University of Waikato, alongside lead researcher, Associate Professor Nevil Pierse, co-director of the He Kāinga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme at the University of Otago, Wellington. Other credited authors on the report include The People’s Project chief executive, Julie Nelson, and general manager, Kerry Hawkes.
The People’s Project supports research which is contributing robust evidence towards the development of a model to end homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand. Overseas evidence has shown that people’s wellbeing improves when they have permanent accommodation and ongoing support using the Housing First approach, and these latest New Zealand study results confirm that Housing First is having a positive impact.
- The study found there was significant improvement in the mental health of those in the study 12 months after they were housed, with the number of nights people spent in acute mental health units dropping by 50 per cent in the first year. This was maintained in the second year.
- General visits to health centres, including to diabetes and outpatient clinics, increased significantly with a 15 per cent increase after one year of housing and a 31 per cent increase after two years.
- Those in the study also had fewer encounters with police and the courts, with the number of police offences and charges down over both years.
- Incomes also rose, with the average person in the study having almost $3,000 more in overall total income – although their incomes remained low.
Visit The People’s Project website to find out more about the Two-Year Post-Housing Outcomes for a Housing First Cohort in Aotearoa New Zealand report, and other homelessness research being carried out in New Zealand.