Finland is saying goodbye to homelessness

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By Veera Vehkasalo
Finland is the only European country where homelessness is decreasing. Juha Kaakinen has played a significant role in this work since the 1980s: as a civil servant for the City of Helsinki; a member of the group that developed the Housing First approach; and as CEO of Y-Foundation, which offers affordable housing to people experiencing homelessness or on low incomes.
Iso Numero: The aim of the Sanna Marin government 2019–2023 was to eradicate homelessness by 2027. Is this a realistic goal?
Juha Kaakinen: Yes, it is. We know the ways to make it possible. Homelessness has decreased in Finland, mainly because of a strong political consensus that homelessness is an important human rights issue.
You have just completed a report for the Ministry of the Environment on how to achieve this. What were your conclusions?

Now that the number of people experiencing homelessness has decreased, we can say that the majority of those remaining have more challenging problems. They need more intensive and longer-lasting support. We must ensure that this support is organised and that resources are allocated for it.

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