According to ARA (asumisen rahoittamis- ja kehittämiskeskus), Finland had 5 482 people without a home last year. There are homeless single people, couples and families in Finland and most of these people are living in the area of Helsinki. Many of them are staying at their friends or relatives, but there are also people living on the streets without a place to stay.
If you ask me, over 5 000 people without a home is definitely too much. Nobody should be without a home and live on the streets. Having a home should be guaranteed for everyone and that is why I was really happy to read about Asunto ensin (housing first) principle, which is a model, that is nowadays used in working with homeless. In a nutshell, it is about arranging an apartment for a homeless person before solving other possible problems. According to Asunto ensin webpage, without a home it is not possible to live a normal life in the society. Own home is the best place to put life back on the track and that is why arranging an apartment for a homeless person should be a priority when talking about support measures.
According to Yle article “Suomesta tuli koko maailman mallimaa asunnottomuuden hoidossa – Ulkomaisia tiedotusvälineitä käy tiuhaan” Finland is actually the only country in Europe where homelessness has declined in recent years. Asunto ensin program has played a big role in this. According to the article, it has been achieved, by seeking to provide the homeless permanent housing instead of temporary accommodation. The article also mentions how housing is seen in Finland as a fundamental right, not as a reward for good behavior.
“Everyone in civilized country should have a home.” – Juha Kaakinen, the current CEO of the Y Foundatition
In Yle article “Suomi teki sen, missä muu maailma ei ole vielä onnistunut – Toni Tiittanen ja 3 500 muuta asunnotonta saivat kodin” Juha Kaakinen, the CEO of the Y Foundations states that home means security, responsibility and freedom. He also thinks that owning a home increases one’s desire to take care of one’s own affairs.
I can easily believe his word. I think it makes sense that having an apartment helps to take responsibility and also to find the strength to organize and manage things in one’s own life. Home is an important place and for sure it makes it easier to face the challenges of life if you have a place of your own, and you don’t constantly have to worry about where to sleep the next night. I think it is great that we have been able to reduce homelessness in Finland and I hope that this trend will continue.