The number of homeless people has declined considerably
In 2006 some 7,400 households in Finland were listed as being homeless, including about 7,000 single people, and some 350 families. Homelessness is most concentrated in growing urban centres, and particularly in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa), where more than half of all the homeless people in Finland live.
The number of homeless people in Finland has declined considerably in recent years. As recently as the end of the year 2000 there were some 10,000 homeless single people across Finland, as well as 800 homeless families. The problem of homelessness has particularly been alleviated in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
Positive developments have included the improved availability of rented apartments and progress with the implementation of action plans within the Government Programme.
National and regional action plans
The first government action plan designed to combat homelessness was prepared for the period 2001-2003, when the State, municipalities and other organisations such as foundations set targets for the construction or acquisition of a thousand homes a year for housing the homeless. This programme was subsequently extended until the end of 2005.
A separate programme designed to reduce homelessness in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area was finalised in 2002 for the period 2002-2005, involving the construction and acquisition of four thousand homes a year and measures to ensure the provision of the necessary housing services and support.
Housing services for the homeless in Helsinki
The three cities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have already agreed to continue their co-operation on combating homelessness until 2007. A plan has been drawn up by all parties to improve housing services for the homeless.
The plan sets up a network that includes organisations and companies that provide services for the homeless and the Centre of Expertise on Social Welfare in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, as well as the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and RAY (the charitable organisation that raises funds by running gambling slot machines throughout Finland).
This network will develop new forms of support for independent living, as well as measures that should permanently reduce homelessness. The most urgent need is for accommodation services for the homeless.
The co-ordinating role of the Ministry of the Environment
The work done to reduce homeless nationally and in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is co-ordinated by the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry particularly aims to improve the supply of small rented apartments, to channel investment grants for special groups into projects that alleviate homelessness, and to develop new ways to help people from groups with special needs to find accommodation.
For more information
Mr Peter Fredriksson, Senior Specialist, Housing Trends,
Housing and Building Department, Ministry of the Environment
Tel. + 358 20 490 7602