How Finland Is Ending Homelessness

Over the past 40 years, Finland has been able to decrease the level of homelessness within its borders by 80% and are on track to end homelessness altogether by 2027, thanks to the Housing First program. When it comes to helping the homeless, the first thing we think of is homeless shelters. The fact is, Finland has only one. It’s located in Helsinki and homeless people can go there without any prerequisites and speak to a social worker directly, who will then begin finding housing for them. Finland has transitioned from housing the homeless in shelters to actually finding them places to live. What used to be a 250-bed Salvation Army homeless shelter is now an 81-unit apartment building with support staff on-site. Finland didn’t just happen to stumble onto the solution, but once they saw that homeless shelters are counterproductive, they switched to the Housing First model and have never gone back. In addition to providing housing for the homeless, things liked medical and psychiatric treatment, addiction recovery, and employment services are also provided. It remains to be seen whether any other countries will follow Finland’s lead.