What we’re doing about homelessness

We’re working with central government and social services to end homelessness in Wellington City.

We’re taking a big picture, hands-on approach to managing our city streets

Rough sleeping and begging are not illegal in Wellington City, and banning or punishing these behaviours has not been shown to work. However, we know Wellingtonians are concerned about these issues. 

We want to support the most vulnerable members of our communities – those who are homeless and/or begging – as well as considering the broader needs of residents, business owners, and visitors. To do this, we are taking a proactive but supportive approach to managing our city streets, and working closely with government agencies and social services to end homelessness in Wellington City for good.

This coordinated, collaborative approach is guided by our strategy, Te Mahana: Ending homelessness in Wellington

Why are people homeless in Wellington?

We fund support services for people who are homeless or facing eviction 

Many people who are experiencing homelessness find it difficult to reach out for help. We fund an assertive outreach programme to make sure every person sleeping rough or begging in Wellington City is aware of and has access to the social services that can help them. 

The team works with each person to develop a plan to actively change their situation for the better. This includes connecting them with housing, health services and employment opportunities. The Council believes this approach will be effective, but it takes time – especially for people who have been homeless long-term. 

We also fund organisations to provide emergency accommodation, budgeting advice and other crisis support services. This includes a ‘sustaining tenancies’ programme that provides wrap-around support for people at risk of being evicted due to health or behaviour issues. 

Housing is a big part of the solution

The most effective way to address homelessness is to get people into housing first. This provides them with the stability and independence needed to address the other factors that have contributed to their situation. 

There is already pressure on our housing market and the Council recognises we need to act now to make sure everyone in Wellington has access to safe and affordable quality housing. 

The Council is already the city’s largest provider of affordable rental housing, with more than 2000 units at over 40 locations. We’ve been doing this since the 1950s, and are committed to continuing and improving our services.

We are also committed to increasing the city’s housing stock, and have made this a priority in our Long-term Plan 2018-28

This programme of work will include:

  • providing an extra 750 quality, affordable social housing units
  • working in partnership with Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development to establish supported living options for our most vulnerable homeless population
  • working with central government to identify opportunities for developing Special Housing Areas, streamlining consenting processes for key development sites
  • working with the private sector to encourage the conversion of underused office buildings in the central city into apartments.

Our Housing Strategy

We provide social housing

The Council is Wellington’s largest provider of affordable rental housing. We’ve been doing this since the 1950s, and are committed to continuing and improving our services.

About the Council's social housing

We support emergency and transitional housing services

We help fund organisations such as the Wellington Night Shelter and the Wellington Homeless Women’s Shelter, who provide short-term accommodation for people experiencing homelessness. They also connect them with community support services for follow-up help.

Wellington needs more housing

Increasing Wellington’s housing stock is crucial to ending homelessness and we’ve made this a priority in our Long-term Plan 2018-28.

This programme of work will include:

  • providing an extra 750 quality, affordable social housing units
  • working in partnership with Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development to establish supported living options for our most vulnerable homeless population
  • working with central government to identify opportunities for developing Special Housing Areas, streamlining consenting processes for key development sites
  • working with the private sector to encourage the conversion of underused office buildings in the central city into apartments.

Our Housing Strategy

Our street ambassadors support a safe, friendly central city

Our Local Hosts support this work by monitoring our streets, building relationships with people who are sleeping rough or begging and encouraging respectful, appropriate behaviour.

Local Hosts do not have the power to move people on, but aggressive, anti-social, or obstructive behaviour will not be tolerated on Wellington’s streets. 

We can work with building owners who are concerned about their properties, and we refer any threatening, abusive, or otherwise unsafe behaviour to the Police.

Members of the public and retailers sometimes contact us with concerns about an individual. When this happens, we work with the outreach team to develop a plan specific to the situation. 

What you can do

If you are concerned about someone who is begging or rough sleeping, phone our Contact Centre on 04 499 4444.

We handle these calls so agencies can focus on delivering their core services. It also means we’re able to follow trends around the city and allocate our resources effectively.

If you think the behaviour of someone on the street is unlawful or unsafe, phone Wellington Police on 04 381 2000. In an emergency, phone 111.