Finland Nearly Eliminates Homelessness

Not by moving them along or hiding them, but by giving them a home.

In 2008 the Finnish government implemented the Housing First programme in an attempt to solve homelessness.


The Finish concluded that to truly defeat homelessness, people must first be given a roof over their heads as it makes resolving other problems easier. This goes contrary to popular approaches that require employment or other factors to be met first, in order to get a place to live.⁠


Non-profit Y-Foundation, for example, works with the government to buy new apartments or renovate existing ones. Then, they provide flats to people in need. Residents have a rental contract just like anyone else and they pay rent from their own pockets or through benefits.⁠


Support services also help people get back on their feet, from assisting with applying for social benefits to securing a job. About 4 out of 5 previously homeless people end up keeping their new apartments long term.⁠


Out on the streets, homeless people are more often involved in emergencies - including assaults, injuries, breakdowns. This puts a strain on police and healthcare services and costs money.⁠


While it’s expensive to build, data shows that housing just one long-term homeless person saves the state around €15,000 a year. ⁠


With this policy the country has almost completely eliminated street homelessness and has ample emergency shelter space for those still on the streets.⁠