The number of homeless people in Finland has been on the decline due to a concept known as “Housing First, where those who are in need of shelter receive a small apartment and counselling.
Roughly 4 out of 5 people who are struggling with homelessness are able to return to a stable life thanks to this program, and it turns out it is a cheaper solution than doing nothing about the homeless population.
How does Housing First work?
The standard approach to homelessness requires those affected by it to first search for a job in order to receive aid for their psychological problems and addictions.
Housing First takes the opposite approach, where homeless people are given a place to stay with no preconditions, and social workers assist them in applying for social benefits, counselling, and employments. With such a system in place, it is much easier for those affected by homelessness to find a job in order to take care of their mental and physical health.
Within the last ten years, over 4500 homes have been provided for people affected by homelessness in Finland. In 2017, there were reportedly
1900 people still living on the streets, but there were places for them to go for emergency shelter.
When people are affected by homelessness, they are more likely to breakdown, assault others, and cause injuries. The cost of this effect outweighs the cost of simply spending money on housing, which is the main idea behind the Housing First initiative.
Seeing as how 4 of 5 people keep their homes, the Housing First initiative has already proven to be successful in the long run. The other twenty percent typically move out to stay with friends or relatives.
While there is no guaranteed “cure” to homelessness, this approach seems much more effective than the current system many countries have in place.