We held a seminar with speakers Brodie Fraser, Carol McMinn, Clare Aspinall, Jenny Ombler and Nevil Pierse. ‘Housing First’ is an approach to ending homelessness by housing people first then providing the extra help they need. Will it work in NZ?

‘Housing First’ is an approach to ending homelessness that centres on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed. In 2017 the initial Housing First programme was launched in Auckland with Government and local Council funding, and there are now programmes in Christchurch, Tauranga, Rotorua, Hamilton, Blenheim, Wellington and Whangarei.

Researchers Brodie Fraser, Clare Aspinall, Jenny Ombler and Nevil Pierse will discuss different aspects of homelessness in New Zealand and the Ending Homelessness: Housing First research programme, a five year research partnership between the University of Otago, the University of Waikato, and The People’s Project. The main purpose of the research is to look at the provision of Housing First in New Zealand, to consider how the model fits into the unique New Zealand context, and to evaluate the outcomes and life courses for people who have been housed in Hamilton by The People’s Project. Carol McMinn from The People’s Project will discuss this latter aspect in more detail.

Presentation: Brodie Fraser, Carol McMinn, Clare Aspinall, Jenny Ombler & Nevil Pierse, Housing First in New Zealand

Peoples project


  • Brodie Fraser is in the final year of her PhD with He Kāinga Oranga, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, looking at the intersection of LGBTIQ+ identities and experiences of homelessness in Aotearoa.
  • Carol McMinn is a data analyst and researcher with the Wise Group, in Hamilton. Since 2014, she has been part of the genesis of The People’s Project, a large-scale homeless service providing a Housing First approach to supporting those experiencing homelessness. Drawing on four years as a case manager, she is completing her PhD, focusing on lost points of intervention in people’s pathways into homelessness. This research quantifies the prevalence of those who have experienced adverse childhood experiences as part of their journey.
  • Clare Aspinall is also a PhD student with He Kāinga Oranga researching the transfer and evolution of Housing First in New Zealand. The study is part of the Ending Homelessness: Housing First research programme. Clare also has research interests in ways to address homelessness in New Zealand. For her Masters of Public Health she researched boarding houses. Clare spent 13 years as a public health advisor specialising in housing and homelessness, she is Vice Chair of Dwell Housing Trust and has 13 years’ governance experience in the Community Housing sector.
  • Jenny Ombler is a Research Fellow at the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, and He Kāinga Oranga/Housing and Health Research programme. She has worked on urban change and local governance issues as part of the Resilient Urban Futures programme, and is part of the Ending Homelessness in New Zealand: Housing First research programme.
  • Nevil Pierse is deputy director of He Kāinga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme. A statistician by training, his current work is done in partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders including government and community organisations, and is focused on the design and implementation of randomised trials in the home and community. His previous studies have shown the benefits of efficient home heating and insulation, which was instrumental in the $300 Million EECA, Warm Up New Zealand, Heat Smart programme. Nevil’s other work includes the HRC funded Home Injury Prevention Intervention, which showed that simple home repairs and modification reduced the number of falls in homes by 27%. He is currently working on the SHELTHER study which looks at home interventions to prevent rehospitalisation of children with respiratory disease. Nevil also leads the ‘Ending Homelessness in New Zealand: Housing First’ MBIE funded research programme.

This seminar took place on 11 December 2019 at City Gallery, 101 Wakefield St, Wellington.

For further information please contact libby.grant@otago.ac.nz.

Health Housing & Building NZ Policy