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Jason

'It’s a miracle': Helsinki's radical solution to homelessness

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Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally
 

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As in many countries, homelessness in Finland had long been tackled using a staircase model: you were supposed to move through different stages of temporary accommodation as you got your life back on track, with an apartment as the ultimate reward.

 

“We decided to make the housing unconditional,” says Kaakinen. “To say, look, you don’t need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.”

 

 

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I knew the solution as soon as I read the title. A city in Canada (Medicine Hat) solved homelessness the same way - just give them apartments for as long as they need it. This lets them get jobs and be healthy, and then they are able to move out.

 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/medicine-hat-homeless-free-update-1.3949030

 

However, this is not possible in many places (read: America) because it involves giving something for free to a group of people that are seen as responsible for their own situation (even though homelessness is an institutional problem). It's very similar to how if you make preventative medicine free, you spend less on chronic treatment, yet co-pays still exist in the US.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

However, this is not possible in many places (read: America) because it involves giving something for free to a group of people that are seen as responsible for their own situation (even though homelessness is an institutional problem).

Somewhere around 2.5 million low income households get rental assistance that covers rent and utilities from the federal government alone. These people otherwise would be homeless.

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1 hour ago, sblfilms said:

Somewhere around 2.5 million low income households get rental assistance that covers rent and utilities from the federal government alone. These people otherwise would be homeless.

 

It is also a horrifically underfunded program (the waiting list for vouchers is gigantic) with significant problems in application...For example, if you have an eviction or monetary judgement against you, it becomes borderline impossible to get vouchers. The constituency that is most likely to have those things is also the constituency most at risk for homelessness.

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1 hour ago, sblfilms said:

Somewhere around 2.5 million low income households get rental assistance that covers rent and utilities from the federal government alone. These people otherwise would be homeless.

 

But you're still screwed should something happen that causes you to become homeless.

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4 minutes ago, Chris- said:

 

It is also a horrifically underfunded program (the waiting list for vouchers is gigantic) with significant problems in application...For example, if you have an eviction or monetary judgement against you, it becomes borderline impossible to get vouchers. The constituency that is most likely to have those things is also the consistency most at risk for homelessness.

 

It certainly is in need of reform. My sister is schizophrenic and matter of factly can’t hold down a job despite the appearance of being a healthy young person. She was on the waiting list for close to 30 months.

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2 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

But you're still screwed should something happen that causes you to become homeless.

Sure, but that wasn’t CV’s contention that I was addressing.

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12 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

Sure, but that wasn’t CV’s contention that I was addressing.

 

To CV's point, Section 8 - and welfare in general - are definitely maligned by certain segments in this country, and any attempt to do what Helsinki did would only amplify that consternation. I don't think it's a stretch to saying doing so would be politically impossible.

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I also saw the title and assumed "giving them homes?" was the solution. 

 

It's difficult too, though, because a lot of homelessness is due to mental illness just like it is due to economic circumstances. Keeping those people from becoming homeless and living on the streets again also needs to include a massive amount of social support. And that industry is high stress, underfunded, underpaid, and under appreciated. So there's not a lot of new blood going into social services. 

 

 

Look upon our works and despair. 

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1 hour ago, Snaynay1 said:

Didn't we try housing projects in the 60s that turned out to be a failure?

 

These aren't projects, they place people in regular apartments. The idea is that most people can bounce back pretty quickly from losing their housing as long as they're re-housed promptly.

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There is a new podcast by Malcolm Gladwell called Solvable. The first episode is about homelessness and covers this specific aspect. Good stuff.

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