Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes

Finland is among the most successful and prosperous Nordic countries and ending homelessness has always been on their political agenda. It seems that since the 1980s the rates have been constantly going down thanks to the country’s smart policies.
Homelessness is a pressing issue in every major city and people who end up in this situation might suffer from several mental disorders, substance abuses or have simply lost their jobs and ended up on the streets. So, to end the problem itself, one must go to the root of it and solve all these issues first. This can be done by a country when adopting new policies or creating a shift in collective thinking. Finland managed to tackle the problem by providing housing first for those in need and then solving the other bits.

They named the project Housing First concept and seems to be working very well. The entire idea is based on the fact, that once someone has a secure roof over their head, they can also start solving their health issues, and concerns that relate to their personal and professional life.
According to statistics, in the 1980s there have been 20,000 people registered as homeless in Finland and until 1996 the number of them decreased by half. This was all thanks to the building of several affordable housings and short-term shelters. By the end of 2015, the number of homeless persons was under 7,000.
The main principles of the Housing First project are very simple: people in need should receive an apartment on a normal lease, they are made tenants and pay rent. They can also receive other types of support if needed, such as financial counseling and help when applying to other government benefits.

Results show that trying to solve and end the problem of homelessness is always a better investment for a country, than simply trying to cope with the problem and keeping it under control.

source: TheGuardian

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