Finland is leading the way to combat homelessness which is a serious problem across the world. Finland is however one step forward with an initiative that could provide a long-term solution.
Back in 2008, the “Housing First” policy was introduced by the Northern European nation, with the concept that everyone is entitled to a small apartment including people with financial issues and who are homeless. The policy showed positive result in the declining of the number of homeless people and it still continues to do so.
Finland was also one of the countries who previously provided short-term shelters for the homeless. However even after their efforts to provide homes for those in need, the country found that the quick fix didn’t help people to get back on their feet permanently and build a stable life. To offer a more permanent solution, affordable rental housing providers such as Y-Foundation began renovating old flats, and the NGO even turned former emergency shelters into apartments.
Juha Kaakinen, the CEO of Y-Foundation explained, “It was clear to everyone that the old system wasn’t working; we needed radical change. We had to get rid of the night shelters and short-term hostels we still had back then. They had a very long history in Finland, and everyone could see they were not getting people out of homelessness. We decided to reverse the assumptions.”
The Housing First initiative provided 4,600 homes in Finland just in the last 10 years. This achievement made it the only country in Europe where homelessness is on the decline. The country’s government is also helping support people to integrate into their community with available social workers for counselling and to help people apply for social benefits. With this support people are more encouraged to seek employment and become financially independent, as well as to take care of their physical and mental health.