How Finland Solved Homelessness
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Huffington Post
Posted: February 3rd, 2019
Finlands much-lauded housing first approach ... has been in place for more than a decade. The idea is simple. To solve homelessness you start by giving someone a home, a permanent one with no strings attached. If they want to drink, they can; if they want to take drugs, thats fine too. Support services are made available to treat addiction, mental health and other problems, and to help people get back on their feet, from assisting with welfare paperwork to securing a job. The housing in Finland is a mix of designated standard apartments sprinkled through the community, and supported housing: apartment blocks with on-site services, built or renovated specifically for chronically homeless people. Formerly homeless residents ... pay rent from their own pockets or through the benefits afforded by Finlands relatively generous welfare state. The approach is working. As homelessness rises across Europe, Finlands numbers are falling. In 1987, there were around 18,000 homeless people. In 2017, there were 7,112 homeless people, of which only 415 were living on the streets or in emergency shelters. The vast majority (84 percent) were staying temporarily with friends or relatives. Between 2008 and 2015, the number of people experiencing long-term homelessness dropped by 35 percent. While its expensive to build, buy and rent housing for homeless people, as well as provide the vital support services, the architects of the policy say it pays for itself. Studies have found housing one long-term homeless person saves society around 15,000 ($17,000) a year ... due to a reduction in their use of services such as hospital emergency rooms, police and the criminal justice system.
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