Definition of homelessness

 There are a number of different manifestations of homelessness, but all imply a great difficulty accessing benefits that require certain forms of identification. Statistics New Zealand published the New Zealand Definition of Homelessness in 2009. They defined homelessness as the unavailability of options to obtain safe and secure housing and divided it into four categories:


·         Without shelter: Living on the street or in improvised, nonpermanent shelters such as shacks.

·         Temporary accommodation: Staying in a shelter or another form of transitional living such as a homeless shelter, women’s refuge, hostel for the homeless, or in a motor camp for an extended period of time.

·         Sharing accommodation: Sharing someone else’s private home on a temporary basis.

·         Uninhabitable housing: Living in an unsafe or rundown housing.


Obstacles faced by homeless individuals

 Being homeless creates a number of complications when it comes to navigating legal processes. Applications for Work and Income and getting a bank account both require a residential address. This keeps homeless individuals stuck in a structurally generated cycle of inaccessibility and disempowerment. The AMLCFT Act (Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009) is the act that made it necessary for banks to get proof of residential address from new customers in order to reduce risk. This act has created further hurdles that prevent homeless individuals from accessing the assistance they need.


Apply for Naming New Zealand support when you are homeless

Contact us directly and we will either be able to help you ourselves or put you in contact with someone who will be able to help find alternatives to the required address sections of most identity documents. We can also put you in touch with other organisations if you would like other forms of support.

How to update each of your identity documents if you are homeless

 Homeless individuals often do not have sufficient photo identification to open a bank account or apply for an income. You can obtain a grant for a birth certificate through Work and Income although information about how to do so is unavailable or difficult to find on their website. We can also provide grants for getting identity documents if you meet our other criteria.



How to apply for Work and Income grants if you are homeless

 Homeless clients can give agents legal permission to receive Work and Income benefits on their behalf. This can feel degrading to some people, so we hope that soon the process will be changed in such a way that supports the independence and self-efficacy of people who are experiencing homelessness.

 When applying for financial assistance with Work and Income you will need to first apply online and then bring the following to your appointment:

·         An online application reference number

·         Proof of who you are, including one form of official identification and two additional documents helping prove your identity (one of the documents must be at least two years old). If your name has changed then you need to bring proof of the name change.

·         Supporting documents, which includes proof of your bank account, documentation from Inland Revenue showing your tax number, and that might include a number of other documents depending on your situation. These additional documents are listed on the Work and Income website linked below.

·         Additional information necessary for special benefits


When applying for Special Needs grants there is somewhat less information you will need to provide:

·         Identification. If you are already receiving continuing financial assistance from Work and Income then you will just need one form of official identification such as a passport, driver’s license, or student identification card. If you are not receiving such assistance then you need either one form of government-issued identification with proof of citizenship/residency OR two documents that provide proof of identity along with proof of your income (such as payslips) and proof of your assets (such as a bank statement).

·          Information relating to your urgent need. This includes a quote from a retailer (except for when the need is petrol or food) and receipts demonstrating where you have been spending your income.


For full information about what you’ll need if applying for financial assistance or Special Needs Grants, go to the Work and Income webpage that lists details about these issues. There is a link to the website below.





An article about the impact of The AMLCFT Act on the homeless population:



Information about homelessness from the New Zealand parliament:



Information about applying for financial assistance and grants from Work and Income: