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What is Housing First?
Housing First instead of managing it. The basic idea is to offer permanent housing and needs-based support for homeless people instead of temporary accommodation in hostels or in emergency shelters. Permanent housing means an independent rental flat with own rental contract.
are provided with a stable home and individually tailored support. do not have to earn their right to housing by proving their capability to manage their lives. Instead, they are provided with a stable home and individually tailored support.
How has it worked in Finland?
Since 2008 the national homelessness strategy in Finland has been based on the Housing First model, as a result of dedicated cooperation between the state, municipalities and NGOs.
Investments have been made to provide affordable housing, and shelters have been converted into supported housing units. New services and methods of help have been developed to match the multiple needs of individual tenants.
Finland has all but eradicated rough sleeping and sustainably housed a significant number of long-term homeless people. Finland is the only country in Europe where the number of homeless people has declined in recent years.
What has the public response to Housing First been? Was there any backlash?
There was a strong political will to find new solutions for homelessness. There were a few local reactions concerning the location of new service facilities. However, those were mainly overcome by open interaction with the neighborhoods.
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Financially, how does Housing First work?
The key things are affordable housing and support. Extra funding that the state has allocated for flats and services has been an incentive for the municipalities to implement Housing First.
Tenants pay rent and are entitled to receive housing benefits. Depending on their income, they may contribute to the cost of the services. The rest is covered by the municipalities. They provide the support themselves or buy support from other service providers, mainly from the NGOs.
Stable living conditions enable the use of mainstream services instead of using expensive emergency services. This will save money in a long term.
Where there any initial problems that needed to be ironed out?
The focus of the national strategy was clear from the start. The city specific implementation plans included concrete objectives and resources to meet them. Therefore, no major problems were encountered.
There was, however, some work to be done on attitudes. For example, the unconditional housing was hard to accept by some people in NGOs which had previously been working with a different set of values.
How easily can the model be replicated in other European countries?
The Housing First model can be replicatedeven though housing conditions may vary from country to country in Europe. Providing permanent homes for the homeless should be a target instead of temporary solutions.
How much interest have you had in the scheme? Who seems most supportive?
In Finland this has been a national strategy, not a local project. This new approach and convincing results have raised broad interest internationally.