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Responding to homelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand through home-grown best practice

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Parity, 30(8), 28-29

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This article by McIntyre, Director of DCM Wellington, offers an in-depth look at the organisation's approach to addressing homelessness in Wellington, New Zealand.

DCM, operating since 1969, has adopted a mission to empower marginalised individuals, focusing particularly on those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The organisation endorses the belief that homelessness should be ‘rare, brief, and non-recurring,’ aligning with principles from Wellington’s Te Mahana Strategy to End Homelessness and the Housing First approach. DCM’s practice is grounded in several key principles: evidence-informed practice, strengths-based practice, safe practice, cultural practice, collaborative practice, and reflective practice. The organisation emphasises the importance of moving people from homelessness directly into permanent housing and providing comprehensive support to maintain this housing. They collect robust data consistent with New Zealand’s official definition of homelessness, demonstrating a significant increase in homelessness over recent years. A unique aspect of DCM’s approach is the use of ‘Ki Te Hoe,’ a culturally appropriate planning tool developed in-house, which encourages clients, referred to as ‘taumai,’ to set their own goals towards wellness. The article highlights the disproportionally high number of Māori among those experiencing homelessness and stresses the need for culturally appropriate housing models in New Zealand. DCM advocates for collaborative practices that include relationships with government departments, community agencies, and other stakeholders. They also call for a diversification of housing options, including harm reduction accommodation for individuals with long-term homelessness linked to substance use. The article emphasises that addressing homelessness effectively requires more than just emergency housing solutions; it necessitates a substantial increase in affordable, permanent accommodation and tailored support services. McIntyre’s article is a call to action for adopting best practices in homelessness intervention, focusing on permanent solutions and respecting the cultural and individual needs of those affected.

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