Homelessness (severe housing deprivation)

We are working to build knowledge about people missing out on housing. We are working on how severe housing deprivation (homelessness) should be defined, how many people it affects, who they are, and their experiences.

Our research in this area includes:

  • Defining and measuring severe housing deprivation
  • The experiences of people living in boarding houses
  • The experiences of people living in camping grounds

Definition and measurement

Amore, Kate. 2016. “Severe Housing Deprivation in Aotearoa / New Zealand 2001-2013.” Wellington: University of Otago.

Amore, Kate, Helen Viggers, M Baker, and P Howden-Chapman. 2013. “Severe Housing Deprivation: The Problem and Its Measurement.” Official Statistics Research Series 6.

Boarding Houses

“Anyone can live in a boarding house, can’t they?” The advantages and disadvantages of boarding houses

Clare Aspinall

This masters thesis explores the experiences of boarding house residents, managers and landlords, and people providing health support to boarding house residents. The keys findings are that there are a wide range of boarding houses, but some have very poor physical standards, unsafe social enviroments, and poor management practices. Enforcement of building regulation needs to be proactive, and stronger tenancy rights for boarders are needed. Landlords and managers that house vulnerable boarders also need better support. However, it is clear that vulnerability makes boarding houses very unsuitable for some. An increase in affordable, quality housing that vulnerable people can access is needed.

Media coverage: Homeless languish in rundown boarding houses

Read Clare’s thesis here

Camping Grounds

Marginally grounded: Camping ground residence in New Zealand

Chrissy Severinsen

This PhD thesis explores the experiences of camping ground residents, and their pathways into camping ground residence. The key findings are that living in a camping ground has both positive and detrimental aspects. On one hand, it offers opportunities to develop social networks and place attachment; but on the other, residents may be vulnerable, socially excluded, and living in poor quality, insecure housing.

Some people are living in camping grounds because they have no other options, especially people with low incomes. People are also discharged to them from prisons and mental health units. These vulnerable people should be able to access more secure, stable housing. Housing provision must be regulated and provided for at local and central government levels. Necessary actions include increasing the supply of affordable housing, investing in low-cost housing and emergency accommodation, and safe-guarding housing rights.

Media coverage:

Vulnerable driven to caravan parks

Thousands forced to live in camping grounds


Read Chrissy’s thesis here

More information

Some of our work on homelessness is shown through a two part video documentary, “Putting Homelessness in Focus”