Finland has become the only EU-country to see the number of homeless decline. They have done this by using a Housing First initiative; which they started in 2008.
Housing First takes those who are affected by homelessness, gives them a small apartment to live in, and then provides counselling for everything they might need without conditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general.
Because of this initiative which began more than a decade ago; 4 out of 5 people affected have made their way back to a stable life.
It is Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) such as the “Y-Foundation” that provide housing for people in need. They receive discounted loans from the state and take care of the construction themselves, buy flats on the private housing market and renovate existing flats. The apartments have one to two rooms. In addition to that, former emergency shelters have been converted into apartments in order to offer long-term housing. And the homeless people turn into tenants with a tenancy agreement.
And the real kicker? Because of the cost of homelessness it’s cheaper to house them. In Canada it costs over $50,000 per homeless person. That’s from the cost of shelters, other programs, and the strain homelessness puts on emergency services from health care to police and the justice system. With the housing first program Finland is spending 15,000 euros (about $23,000) less per homeless person than it was before it began the program.
Not everyone makes it, about 20% of the time people move out because either they want to live with friends or relatives or because they don’t make rent. Especially homeless women are more difficult to reach. They conceal their emergency situation more often and they live on the streets less frequently and rather stay with friends or acquaintances.
But this 80% success rate is why this if your Good News Story of the Day, and you can read it in full here. Plus it’s also important to know that even if they don’t make it through, and become one of the 20%, they can apply again and try again if they want to.
Story and Image from Pressenza.