Finland is the only country where the number of people who are homeless is going down. The success has drawn a lot of international attention. Y-Foundation, a housing provider, has compiled a handbook about homelessness programs in Finland.
The handbook provides a history of homelessness in Finland and describes the evolution of services for people experiencing homelessness. One foundation of the current program is a Housing First approach, which helps people experiencing homelessness to move to permanent housing.
In Finland, the Housing First program includes permanent supported housing. Tenants live in self-contained units in a building that has staff on site 24/7. Tenants can live in their units as long as they like: there is no program requirement to move to independent housing. An interesting feature of the supported housing is “community-work,” which enables tenant participation in all management decisions affecting the building.
The Housing First program also includes independent housing for clients who do not need 24/7 support. This housing is in individual units scattered throughout the community.
The Handbook brings the evolution of the program to light through case studies. For example, an emergency men’s shelter was closed and renovated to provide self-contained permanent housing units with support.
It also describes how researchers studying the Housing First services identified the need for homelessness prevention programs. The Handbook gives examples of programs that are currently in operation in Finland that help people who are in precarious housing situations to avoid becoming homeless.
This Handbook will be helpful to people who are making their way along the path to ending homelessness in their community. This includes policy makers, program managers, decision makers and people who are experiencing homelessness. The Handbook is available on line: A Home Of Your Own Handbook