Finland’s homelessness scheme takes 3,500 people off the street

Finland’s approach to homelessness has helped 3,500 people off the street, and is gaining recognition abroad as well.

About ten years ago Finland decided that every person in the country deserves to have a home. Housing minister Jan Vapaavuori, who is now the mayor of Helsinki, called a group of experts to solve the problem of long-term homelessness.

Today that goal is closer than ever. Thanks to the ‘Housing First’ programme, 3,500 people have received a home and 80 percent have been able to hold on to them.

Finland’s approach, ‘Housing First,’ starts from the assumption that the first support measure for homeless people should be the provision of housing. Only after housing has been provided should any other problems, such as substance abuse or mental health issues, be dealt with.

This approach has gained recognition in other countries too.

Juha Kaakinen, a member of Vapaavuori’s group, and currently the chief executive of non-profit housing provider Y-Foundation, has visited France, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland to talk about how Finland has succeeded in reducing homelessness.

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