Evaluation of the Intensive Case Management and Navigator Initiatives

In 2019 MSD developed Intensive Case Management (ICM) and Navigator Initiatives to better support people receiving Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants (EH-SNG). MSD began implementing the Initiatives in line with the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan (2020-2023) in May 2020. The Homelessness Action Plan (HAP) aims to deliver on the Government’s goal that homelessness is prevented where possible, or is rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Funding of $31m was committed from Budget 2019 for the Initiatives. This funding was initially set up to support 1,200 whānau with children in Emergency Housing.

The goal of the Initiatives is to improve the wellbeing and stability of clients in their current situation, enabling them to better engage with public and private housing and sustain housing in the long term. The Initiatives are based on the theory that having intensive, personalised, single point of contact support will ultimately help whānau stabilise their housing situation. The evaluation investigated the experiences of the ICM and Navigator Initiatives in three regions: Rotorua, Hamilton, and Auckland.

Findings

  • The Initiatives successfully contributed to the goals of the HAP by providing holistic support to whānau in Emergency Housing. While the evaluation showed that the Initiatives are being implemented largely as intended, the findings signalled some areas for improvement.
  • The Initiatives were not designed to address the underlying barriers and lack of housing supply that has resulted in whānau being in Emergency Housing. This created disappointment for some whānau, who presumed the Initiatives would secure them a home.
  • Although most Intensive Case Managers and Navigators are experienced Case Managers or community workers, investment in further training for them would help maximise the value added by the roles and build housing sector capability.
  • The Initiatives, based on their current design, can be strengthened by enhancing cultural responsiveness at organisational and staff levels (leadership, management, and frontline staff) so that MSD and Navigator provider organisations orient their service delivery to a tailored and collaborative approach with whānau.

Current state (June 2022)

The findings provide an opportunity for MSD to strengthen its support to people receiving EH-SNG. MSD has developed a range of proposed actions in response to the findings, including refreshing and disseminating best practice examples for ICMs and Navigators, and providing greater clarity around the scope of roles. MSD will also improve communication about the Initiatives to avoid disappointing whānau who believe that they are receiving a housing placement service.