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4 July 2024 Thursday in Turku: Finland Addresses the Homeless Issue by providing homes to everyone.

I am grateful NOT to be in the USA on the 4th of July. These are shameful days in US history with the decision of SCOTUS that POTUS can do whatever he wants and is immune from prosecution. According to – Project on Government Oversight, the gross military budget is between $1.5 and $2 trillion. Yes, the USA will not address the millions of Americans who are living in the streets and the tens of millions suffering from housing insecurity. But it will pour trillions into the Military Industrial Pig Trough to ensure CEOS and MisFortune 500 companies can continue to loot the USA.


In Florida, the homeless are criminalized for sleeping in public spaces. I am baffled. Why would you be arrested for sleeping in public if you cannot afford an apartment and have nowhere else to sleep? Where do they expect you to sleep? Where else would the homeless sleep? I am in one of those Kafkaesque quandaries. Does the government think if they do not see people experiencing homelessness, they will disappear? In Iceland, if you are homeless, which is a rarity, you can simply show up to jail at night, and they will give you a bed.

Nevertheless, in Finland, where we are now visiting, there are no visible homeless people. They’re not in prison. They live in houses. As you will see in the following article, Finland has made a goal that by 2025, all people in Finland will be housed.


Today, we were at the tourist office, and in that office complex or social service office, people experiencing homelessness or who are ill can get help. The Finnish government’s national priority is that all people should have homes. This is similar to Iceland. Also, there is universal healthcare; everyone is entitled to healthcare. Healthcare, education, housing, and, where necessary, financial support. This is a fundamental human right – a home, health care, education, and financial support. You may call it socialism, but I call it basic human dignity.


Here is a terrific article from about Finland and its work to address homelessness.

Statistics on homelessness in Finland show that in 1989, roughly 16,000 people were experiencing homelessness. Since then, that number has steadily declined to approximately 4,000 people in 2020. This is effectively a 75% decrease in homelessness over 30 years. Finland is also the only EU country that has experienced any decline in the number of homeless reported in the last ten years.


Why are Finland’s statistics impressive?

Firstly, Finland’s definition of homelessness is extensive. It includes temporarily staying with friends or family, which is uncommon among other nations’ homelessness statistics.

This not only puts Finland’s low numbers into context but also gives a greater degree of reliability to the interventions they have created by ensuring the problem is correctly understood. As a result, they would be able to address it most effectively.

Secondly, this success results from innovative solutions and a strategy that has been provided with the necessary resources and driven by the Housing First approach.


A History of Housing First

The housing first principle, policy or approach, is an ideology initially coined by a Canadian Psychologist named Sam Tsemberis, who proposed that the best way to eradicate homelessness was to give people homes. The notion was approached with skepticism at first, and it was argued that more complex contributory factors, such as mental health or substance abuse, need to be solved first.

Finland, however, sees housing as a fundamental human right that needs to be extended to every homeless person. In 2008, the Finnish government committed to the Housing First policy as part of a drive to end homelessness.


Housing First Explained

Put simply, the Housing First model provides a home, a rental, or a flat with a contract without conditions to a person experiencing homelessness. These people are not required to get a job first, get sober first, or make any lifestyle changes—housing is provided first.

The notion goes that once people have permanent housing, they can seek the help they require to improve their lives.

This approach has successfully reduced the number of people experiencing homelessness. Government-partnered nonprofit organizations like The Y-Foundation are integral to this success. The Y-Foundation CEO, Juha Kaakinen, predicts this approach will eradicate homelessness by 2027.


The keys to Finland’s success

Multiple governments, with different political coalitions, have been involved in driving and maintaining the work towards ending homelessness longitudinally. This has allowed the fight against homelessness to extend beyond the length of a single political term.

This initiative involves a vast partnership network. The government, big cities, and prominent NGOs are working together to achieve the same outcome: radical change.


Finland mandated that at least 25% of housing in a city must be affordable, social housing. This has kept access to affordable housing a realistic possibility for those experiencing homelessness and prevented Finland from experiencing the housing crisis many countries in Europe are currently experiencing.

The ideology or conviction that housing is a human right and that eradicating homelessness is an urgent and immediate issue that requires rapid and consistent efforts.

Homelessness decreased again in Finland, according to a survey published by Ara. There were 3429 single homeless people in November 2023, 257 fewer than in the previous year. “The survey confirms that eradicating homelessness in Finland can be successful if we invest in it,” says Teija Ojankoski, CEO of Y-Säätiö.

Helsinki has primarily driven the downward trend in recent years, which is also reflected in the latest figures. Helsinki managed to reduce the number of single homeless people by 157. The number of homeless families in Helsinki is 33, a decrease of 75%. The long-term homeless were also successfully housed: There are 118 fewer long-term homeless people in Helsinki than in the previous year.

“Homelessness problems are typically concentrated in large cities – Helsinki’s success in reducing homelessness serves as a good example, both in Finland and internationally, of how ambitious targets and determined measures can yield results.” Teija Ojankoski, CEO of Y-Säätiö, comments on the recent statistics

Helsinki aims to eradicate homelessness by 2025.


Regional variations

“The shift of homelessness services to well-being services areas is a significant transformation that requires responsiveness and adaptability from all actors involved in reducing homelessness. As the cuts to housing and people’s livelihoods progress over the years, it is clear that the level of difficulty in ending homelessness will increase.

Efforts to tackle homelessness must be made in well-being services areas, cities, and nationally. Fortunately, the recently launched homelessness program brings together the key players. Now is the right time to deepen cooperation and support information sharing and good practice”, Ojankoski continues.


Towards the end of long-term homelessness

Homeless people are not a homogeneous group, and homelessness often develops differently in different groups. The proportion of immigrants among single homeless people rose from well over 18% to 24%. Youth homelessness, on the other hand, decreased. The proportion of all single homeless people aged under 25 fell from 22% to 15%.

Long-term homelessness also fell from last year. There are 115 fewer long-term homeless people than last year, 1018 in total. The government aims to eradicate long-term homelessness through a program to this end, on whose steering group Y-Säätiö is represented.

“Long-term homelessness can be eradicated in Finland. The tools and know-how are there. It is safe to say that the ball is in the policymakers’ court.

To succeed, homelessness must be tackled as a broad issue. Long-term homelessness is not isolated from other forms of homelessness. In addition to developing services for the long-term homeless, it is essential to continue to focus on prevention and to take into account the different risk factors of homelessness in a comprehensive way”, said Mrs Ojankoski.

The vast majority of homeless people, around 62%, stay temporarily with relatives or acquaintances. Other forms of homelessness are clearly smaller: those staying in institutional units (12%), in dormitories or accommodation facilities (12%) and outside, in stairwells, first shelters, etc. (14%).

To eradicate homelessness, we need to take into account all groups experiencing homelessness and their life situations,” says Ojankoski.



We are now traveling in the Baltic countries, France and Scotland, and come from St. Petersburg, Florida, where this story has hundreds of sides. However, the most fundamental issue is that ALL PEOPLE ARE PROVIDED A HOME. Though this is only a tiny perspective, it is inspiring how a small European country like Finland can address homelessness by ensuring everyone has a home first. Then, whatever issues of mental health, alcoholism, or drug use may be factors are also addressed.

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