Finland's "Housing First" has 4 out of 5 success rate and saves money at the same time.

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Serraph105

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#1 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 35177 Posts

https://scoop.me/housing-first-finland-homelessness/

Finland is the only country in Europe where homelessness is in decline

In 2008 you could see tent villages and huts standing between trees in the parks of Helsinki. Homeless people had built makeshift homes in the middle of Finland’s capital city. They were exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Since the 1980s, Finnish governments had been trying to reduce homelessness. Short-term shelters were built. However, long-term homeless people were still left out. There were too few emergency shelters and many affected people did not manage to get out of homelessness: They couldn’t find jobs – without a housing address. And without any job, they couldn’t find a flat. It was a vicious circle. Furthermore, they had problems applying for social benefits. All in all, homeless people found themselves trapped.

But in 2008 the Finnish government introduced a new policy for the homeless: It started implementing the “Housing First” concept. Since then the number of people affected has fallen sharply.

Finland has set itself a target: Nobody should have to live on the streets – every citizen should have a residence.

And the country is successful: It is the only EU-country where the number of homeless people is declining.

How everyone is given residence in Finland

It is NGOs such as the “Y-Foundation” that provide housing for people in need. They take care of the construction themselves, buy flats on the private housing market and renovate existing flats. The apartments have one to two rooms. In addition to that, former emergency shelters have been converted into apartments in order to offer long-term housing.

“It was clear to everyone that the old system wasn’t working; we needed radical change,” says Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation.

Homeless people turn into tenants with a tenancy agreement. They also have to pay rent and operating costs. Social workers, who have offices in the residential buildings, help with financial issues such as applications for social benefits.

Juha Kaakinen is head of the Y-Foundation. The NGO receives discounted loans from the state to buy housing. Additionally, social workers caring for the homeless and future tenants are paid by the state. The Finnish lottery, on the other hand, supports the NGO when it buys apartments on the private housing market. The Y-Foundation also receives regular loans from banks. The NGO later uses the rental income to repay the loans.

“We had to get rid of the night shelters and short-term hostels we still had back then. They had a very long history in Finland, and everyone could see they were not getting people out of homelessness. We decided to reverse the assumptions.” (Juha Kaakinen, Director of the Y-Foundation)

That’s how the “Housing First” concept works

The policy applied in Finland is called “HousingFirst”. It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.

“Housing First”, on the other hand, reverses the path: Homeless people get a flat – without any preconditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general. In such a new, secure situation, it is easier for those affected to find a job and take care of their physical and mental health.

The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with “Housing First” and lead a more stable life.

In the last 10 years, the “Housing First” programme provided 4,600 homes in Finland. In 2017 there were still about 1,900 people living on the streets – but there were enough places for them in emergency shelters so that they at least didn’t have to sleep outside anymore.

Providing people with apartments is cheaper than leaving them on the street

Creating housing for people costs money. In the past 10 years, 270 million euros were spent on the construction, purchase and renovation of housing as part of the “Housing First” programme. However, Juha Kaakinen points out, this is far less than the cost of homelessness itself. Because when people are in emergency situations, emergencies are more frequent: Assaults, injuries, breakdowns. The police, health care and justice systems are more often called upon to step in – and this also costs money.

In comparison, “Housing First” is cheaper than accepting homelessness: Now, the state spends 15,000 euros less per year per homeless person than before.

No miracle cure – but a high success rate

With 4 out of 5 people keeping their flats, “Housing First” is effective in the long run. In 20 percent of the cases, people move out because they prefer to stay with friends or relatives – or because they don’t manage to pay the rent. But even in this case they are not dropped. They can apply again for an apartment and are supported again if they wish.

Of course, there is no guarantee for success. Especially homeless women are more difficult to reach: They conceal their emergency situation more often: They live on the streets less frequently and rather stay with friends or acquaintances.

I thought I would share this bit of news here. I really appreciate that this author emphasizes what came before the Housing First program and how it was failing which prompted Finland to try something new. It's also an incredible example of how this idea, putting people in homes first and working on personal issues second, can work and improve society as well as save money in the process.

Here's hoping that we try this sort of thing in the US in a ton of different places.

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mattbbpl

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#2 mattbbpl
Member since 2006 • 19613 Posts

Haven't we tried similar programs in the US with similar success rates? I think Utah implemented one, or maybe Ohio?

I discussed one of these programs with my parents a while ago, and despite the fact that it saved taxpayer money they were vehemently opposed because socialism. I imagine we'll see similar headwinds in many other locations.

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horgen

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#3 horgen  Moderator
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Am I getting this right? The different view on how to handle the problem has both lead to 4600 persons the last decade avoided homelessness, and by doing so the remaining (for 2017) cost them 1 900 * 15 000 € = 28 500 000 € less than what they would have done under the previous management?

Great news!

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#4 rmpumper
Member since 2016 • 1274 Posts

In before "it works there because they are all white".

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Serraph105

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#5  Edited By Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 35177 Posts

@mattbbpl said:

Haven't we tried similar programs in the US with similar success rates? I think Utah implemented one, or maybe Ohio?

I discussed one of these programs with my parents a while ago, and despite the fact that it saved taxpayer money they were vehemently opposed because socialism. I imagine we'll see similar headwinds in many other locations.

I don't know about Ohio, but it was definitely done in Utah. And yeah, people don't like it because of the idea that it's socialism, or that they have to pay for housing, but homeless people suddenly do not, or that it won't work because "deeper problems" despite evidence that it works, etc.

That said, I still want it to happen so society has even more evidence of success. Also, I think that success in your own country plays an important role because it becomes too difficult to ignore after a while. Kind of like with marijuana legalization in certain states. It's difficult to ignore that tax revenue is being missed out on and the states that have legalized haven't gone to hell.

For example, we've known that Amsterdam had legal weed for a long time, but that didn't change opinions much, but when my mom brought up that people were caught "growing weed" and she, "Didn't think that was very nice" as she put it, and I told her that it's legal in Utah and Colorado and that things were still fine, she couldn't really respond to it. She hasn't brought it up hardly at all in recent years despite most of the states around us, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio legalizing it in some fashion.

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watercrack445

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#6 watercrack445
Member since 2017 • 2537 Posts

Yeah, good policy. We should do that in the states but nationwide.

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deactivated-5ecb2e9232c57

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#7 deactivated-5ecb2e9232c57
Member since 2019 • 653 Posts

@mattbbpl said:

I discussed one of these programs with my parents a while ago, and despite the fact that it saved taxpayer money they were vehemently opposed because socialism. I imagine we'll see similar headwinds in many other locations.

You’ve hit the nail on the head. People for whatever reason place their own ideology over real, working solutions and are incredibly resistant to admitting fault or that their worldview is wrong.

It’s fair to say that the Trump crowd and Republicans in general aren’t concerned with actual governing or finding solutions to problems. It’s all a race to the bottom in terms of who is the most ideologically pure and sticking it to the left.

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#8 foxhound_fox
Member since 2005 • 98532 Posts

Seems incredibly relevant:

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Serraph105

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#9 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 35177 Posts

Yup, it's amazing to me that we just reject successful ideas because they don't fit in with our personal ideologies.

@foxhound_fox said:

Seems incredibly relevant:

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joebones5000

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#10  Edited By joebones5000
Member since 2016 • 3225 Posts

Can't do it, despite how much crime and costs would decrease. No matter how good it is for everyone. It's still "socialism".

Can't we just do it and put an unloaded gun and a NRA brochure in every house? That should make the Republicans happy.

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N64DD

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#11 N64DD
Member since 2015 • 13167 Posts

If we could get it to work, i’d be all for it.

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horgen

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#12 horgen  Moderator
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@leicam6 said:
@mattbbpl said:

I discussed one of these programs with my parents a while ago, and despite the fact that it saved taxpayer money they were vehemently opposed because socialism. I imagine we'll see similar headwinds in many other locations.

You’ve hit the nail on the head. People for whatever reason place their own ideology over real, working solutions and are incredibly resistant to admitting fault or that their worldview is wrong.

It’s fair to say that the Trump crowd and Republicans in general aren’t concerned with actual governing or finding solutions to problems. It’s all a race to the bottom in terms of who is the most ideologically pure and sticking it to the left.

I propose we call it Republicism or Trumpism instead of socialism. Maybe it can be done then.

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#13 mrbojangles25
Member since 2005 • 49297 Posts

It's amazing what happens when a non-profit organization, a determined government, and a "get shit done" attitude can do for a country.

I wonder what my country USA could get done if we applied ourselves. I mean, what good could we get done; we do a lot of shit that's pretty impressive but as far as our collective karma I think we could be better.

@foxhound_fox said:

Seems incredibly relevant:

This is the third time I've seen this meme and, out of all the memes I've seen, this is probably the truest.

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horgen

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#14 horgen  Moderator
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@mrbojangles25: A get shit done attitude from the government can't work with Republicans. That's something they fear :P

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Stevo_the_gamer

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#15 Stevo_the_gamer  Moderator  Online
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A country with a population of a large metro California area, with a unified culture/lack of diversity with a very very low crime rate, is able to house a small amount of homeless with good succuss rates? That's nice I guess.

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deactivated-5ecb2e9232c57

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#16  Edited By deactivated-5ecb2e9232c57
Member since 2019 • 653 Posts
@Stevo_the_gamer said:

A country with a population of a large metro California area, with a unified culture/lack of diversity with a very very low crime rate, is able to house a small amount of homeless with good succuss rates? That's nice I guess.

@rmpumper said:

In before "it works there because they are all white".

Too late your modship, he already inb4'd.

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#17  Edited By deactivated-5ecb2e9232c57
Member since 2019 • 653 Posts

@horgen said:@mrbojangles25: A get shit done attitude from the government can't work with Republicans. That's something they fear :P

This is spot on. I mean, look at the post literally below yours. Just making excuses and thinking of reasons why this can't happen in the US.

Of course, that's all a ruse just to mask that Republicans don't actually want to help the homeless...

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LJS9502_basic

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#18 LJS9502_basic
Member since 2003 • 172301 Posts

@Stevo_the_gamer said:

A country with a population of a large metro California area, with a unified culture/lack of diversity with a very very low crime rate, is able to house a small amount of homeless with good succuss rates? That's nice I guess.

Q: Why is this a bad thing to strive toward?

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#19 horgen  Moderator
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@Stevo_the_gamer said:

A country with a population of a large metro California area, with a unified culture/lack of diversity with a very very low crime rate, is able to house a small amount of homeless with good succuss rates? That's nice I guess.

Even US can enact policies that will lower the crime rate. But as long as you only believe in punishment and not (also) rehabilitation, you won't see that much difference.

@leicam6 said:

@horgen said:@mrbojangles25: A get shit done attitude from the government can't work with Republicans. That's something they fear :P

This is spot on. I mean, look at the post literally below yours. Just making excuses and thinking of reasons why this can't happen in the US.

Of course, that's all a ruse just to mask that Republicans don't actually want to help the homeless...

Of course. Just show that trying to starve the beast for decades shows it works in making the government fail to its tasks.

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#20 Stevo_the_gamer  Moderator  Online
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@horgen: The United States at the federal, or state, or local level can indeed enact policies to remedy issues like homelessness and/or lower crime.

But. California is a perfect example of how throwing money at a problem will not solve it. So much money is being drained that we now have established, embetted really, a homeless industrial complex. Complete insanity.

What makes you think I don't believe in rehabilitation?

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horgen

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#21 horgen  Moderator
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@Stevo_the_gamer said:

@horgen: The United States at the federal, or state, or local level can indeed enact policies to remedy issues like homelessness and/or lower crime.

But. California is a perfect example of how throwing money at a problem will not solve it. So much money is being drained that we now have established, embetted really, a homeless industrial complex. Complete insanity.

What makes you think I don't believe in rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation comment was more US in general than you specifically.

Could you link to anything about this homeless industrial complex?

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#22 Drunk_PI
Member since 2014 • 3358 Posts

NPR's article on the subject: https://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459100751/utah-reduced-chronic-homelessness-by-91-percent-heres-how

It's a pretty interesting read, especially to see the change in opinion from opposing housing the homeless to supporting and leading the cause.

Something like this could work at a state level, regardless of political leanings but if something like this was enacted at a federal level? I have high doubts just because of the Republicans in Congress who will yell socialism.

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horgen

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#23 horgen  Moderator
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@drunk_pi: Saving money there as well.

"Because I was raised as a cowboy in the west desert," Pendleton says, "and I have said over the years, 'You lazy bums, get a job, pull yourself up by the bootstraps.'"

Glad this guy saw something else that worked and tried to do the same instead of continuing with the mentality shown in the quote above.

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#24  Edited By uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 44267 Posts

Was depressing reading about a homeless guy this Christmas who died of cold sleeping directly next to a lavish multistorey hotel while people presumably walked past his corpse indifferent, shit was absolutely ridiculous.

In this day and age homelessness should not be a thing.

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#25 Stevo_the_gamer  Moderator  Online
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@horgen said:
@Stevo_the_gamer said:

@horgen: The United States at the federal, or state, or local level can indeed enact policies to remedy issues like homelessness and/or lower crime.

But. California is a perfect example of how throwing money at a problem will not solve it. So much money is being drained that we now have established, embetted really, a homeless industrial complex. Complete insanity.

What makes you think I don't believe in rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation comment was more US in general than you specifically.

Could you link to anything about this homeless industrial complex?

This is a long but good read. Link.

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theone86

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#26 theone86
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Conservatives: I'm all for solving x problem, but throwing money at it is not the answer.

Liberals: So how do you propose we solve it?

Conservatives: I dunno, something about bootstraps?

Same shit, different day.

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#27 deactivated-5f9e3c6a83e51
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Well, I think there's nothing wrong with taking data and learning from the experience of other countries.