Will Finland Carry Through On Its Plan To End Homelessness By 2027?

A solitary man in snowy trilight contemplates a warm, welcoming door
This scene was created by affordablehousingaction.org and is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
When it comes to rescuing distressed people, Finland has proven that Housing First works.

The article linked to this post is about Finland’s remarkable achievement in reducing homelessness. The success lies in its country-wide adoption of Housing First, an evidence-based program to end homelessness1.

In Finland, people who are homeless are offered housing and expected to pay their rent. There are no expectations about their use of drugs or alcohol. Once housed, people have access a wide range of support services. In the 1980’s there were 20,000 people who didn’t have a roof over their heads. Today that number is 3,700. The goal is to get to zero by 2027.

Jan Petter, the author of the linked article, describes conversations with people who are Housing First clients and people who are homeless and waiting for housing.

Petter writes for a German media outlet and finds himself answering questions about homelessness programming in Germany.

For readers in other countries, it is interesting to see how Petter presents issues that have arisen while implementing Housing First in Finland.  For example, some neighbours are apprehensive about living next to people who are formerly homeless. These concerns are taken seriously. Neighbours have access to services that allow them to become comfortable with their new neighbours.

Petter ends his article with some caution. Housing First began in 2008 at the initiative of a conservative minister. It has enjoyed bi-partisan support since it began. Today, the newly elected prime minister is talking austerity. The people Petter interviewed are concerned about whether Finland will finally be able to achieve its goal.

Read more in SPIEGEL International: How Finland Conquered Homelessness


  1. For more on Housing First programs, try: Housing First – What Is It And How Does It Help To End Homelessness?