Solving homelessness the Finnish way.

photohomeless-man-at-byron-bay.jpg

With the value of housing now plummeting with probably a long way down to go yet, no better an opportunity than to get away from housing mainly seen as an investment rather than a human right. A roof above our head wasn’t always seen as having to own it. It came about when the granting of ‘titles’ was invented. From then on it a became a thing of monetary value rather than a necessity for humans to have shelter away from the elements.   So, it was and the world of ‘real estate’ was born.  The last few years the whole of the Australian home ownership went on a bender with exploiting, speculations  and an explosion of the cost of real estate. I am just writing this when coming across an article about the growing problem of homelessness and how it is being solved in Finland.

“The Finns have turned the traditional approach to homelessness on its head.

There can be a number of reasons as to why someone ends up homeless, including sudden job loss or family breakdown, severe substance abuse or mental health problems. But most homelessness policies work on the premise that the homeless person has to sort those problems out first before they can get permanent accommodation.

Finland does the opposite – it gives them a home first.

The scheme, introduced in 2007, is called Housing First. It is built on the principle that having a permanent home can make solving health and social problems much easier.

The homeless are given permanent housing on a normal lease. That can range from a self-contained apartment to a housing block with round-the-clock support. Tenants pay rent and are entitled to receive housing benefits. Depending on their income, they may contribute to the cost of the support services they receive. The rest is covered by local government.”

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/how-finland-solved-homelessness/

Australia now has a golden opportunity to get back to social housing and solve the thousands of those that miss out on a roof above their head. It has been clear that most couples now find it impossible to get into the housing ‘market.’ The Government can try and get people to move to smaller and cheaper towns but the past has shown that sooner or later most are drawn to the large cities. Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries. Housing is a social right for a civilised country. It is shameful that now more and more people end up sleeping on the streets or in their cars. The answer seems so simple.

Provide decent shelter. The alternative is much more expensive.!

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35 Responses to “Solving homelessness the Finnish way.”

  1. leggypeggy Says:

    Canberra has made a little headway on this with the Common Ground housing project. There’s so much more to be done.
    https://www.commongroundcanberra.org.au/

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The link shows how things can be done. It was very impressive, Peggy, and I wonder how this project is going now?
      No doubt Australia can show Finland a few things of social progress and innovation.
      The action against the tobacco industry springs to mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. bkpyett Says:

    We went into Melbourne city on Christmas Day and I was astonished by the huge number of people sleeping on the streets. We definitely need to follow the Finnish model. Thanks Gerard for this timely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Barbara.
      A trip to Sydney with a walk from Central railway to Martin Place one had to almost step around people living on the pavement.

      Housing is the main problem and that’s why they are on the pavement. It is a social right by any country claiming to be caring and compassionate. The country is spending billions on submarines and Border Force but the real terror of homelessness is well within our borders.

      Like

  3. freefall852 Says:

    Well, Gerard..I juat spent a couple of days in a variation of a negative geared speculators heaven!…and by jeezus, I reckon any feelings of charity or sympathy for the impoverished and homeless would fetch a return of less than 1cent in the dollar there!..and so be disregarded as a poor investment as compared to the marinas and fore-shore properties and cafe-latte cafes!…where plump middle-aged city people thronged to enjoy a touch of the barista’s skill with the froth topping and the ocean views…
    We went to give support to an aged friend who just purchased a small cottage in the older/cheaper side of the town..I hadn’t been to the area for around fifty years and I couldn’t believe my eyes!!…absolute lassaise faire developement gone feral…you could almosat hear the negative gears crunch with every change of marina channel…..I can’t see how Labor is going to undo or slow down this most integral method of swindling without causing a “leisure class” revolution!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, Jo.
      While there is no doubt that many who piled into the apartment/unit markets to gain a windfall in negative gearing, the party might well come to a brawl now.

      The last four weeks auction rate clearances have been below 40%. Do I smell a whiff of panic starting to emerge? Of course, there have been ups and downs in the real estate world before but once in a while a complete rout happens.

      In any case, homelessness has increased in Australia at levels never seen before. And we now have the spectacle of Opal and those dodgy compliance certifiers who in cohorts with developers and investors have been rorting the system and are now caught out.

      Remember the fifties and sixties when hundreds of thousands of houses were being build using asbestos cement sheeting, already known to cause terrible cancers? The Wittenoom disaster had already claimed many deaths, yet this was conveniently ignored for the sake of ramping up ‘home ownership’.

      This downturn has some length still to go. The Avocado on toast and Latte crowd are getting nervous, Jo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        Trouble is, Greard…so many small “mom ‘n’ dad” investors have poured their super’ savings into real estate and if the ship goes down..and it is a good bet that it will..as you point out..then the proverbial will well and truly hit the fan!…UNLESS…the LNP propaganda machine starts to crank up the fear for the WORST terrorism of all…: “people going broke!”

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        It is not for nothing that lately every ad on TV are for taking on funeral insurance. Jo
        It is shown a caring daddy telling his glorious wife he has just done a juicy funeral insurance. Why is that? Is he going to cark it soon? Or will he get the dreaded midnight knock on the door?
        The ‘reverse mortgage’ sellers too have a lot to answer for and I fear that the grandchildren will lose out on the inheritance of Grandpa and Grandma when their property gets swallowed up by debt.

        Like

  4. freefall852 Says:

    Most of those McMansions were built with a negative geared return in mind, and sure, while the current owners may enjoy a “grandfathered” clause , what happens if they sell the property?..I don’t think the new buyer can retain that clause…and so the hundreds of speculator dream homes may quickly turn into a nightmare and the marina chanels become filled with rivers of tears!

    Like

    • freefall852 Says:

      And I suspect most of these sea-side holiday heavens depend heavily on the “aspirant dollar”…they are so gauche and crass in their make-believe attractions that a play on their fears of stopping the continual flow of tax-payer funded property profits may be enough to shut down any talk of a “fair society”, and with a bit og help from those mysterious voter algorithims the LNP could be the big winners.

      Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the MacMansions. Those hollow columns at the front holding up paper mache balconies while inside the ‘home theatre’ and ‘communication’ hubs. 5 bedrooms and no kids. A triple garage with double story SUV’s. While not far away a mother and kids sleeping in a car.
      That is the problem and I know the answer. Bring safe shelter back to a right and not a privilege.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Master of Something Yet Says:

    It’s all so bloody logical. Why do governments make it so hard? Go the Finns. Always seem to know where human and community value truly lies.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. freefall852 Says:

    Yeah, but isn’t Finland almost communist?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Big M Says:

    I have seen something similar in some US cities where it was decided that good quality housing was more important than flash new malls etc. Funnily enough, the old malls look flasher without the homeless begging for loose change, or building cardboard cubby houses. We have plenty of homeless in Newcastle, although I suspect that some have moved on. I think that many homeless may only need accommodation for a relatively short time to get them back on their feet, so one apartment or house has the potential to help thousands over its lifetime.

    Mrs M used to go to Sydney for a weekend with the girls once a year. They always get take away containers and give the leftovers to the homeless, who are usually grateful. Last time her friend tried to give some Spanish food, including seafood and chicken to a chap. When he found out what was in it. “Are you trying to F)(*&ing poison me? Everyone knows I’m a vegan!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jennypellett Says:

    This seems such a simple solution. In London yesterday, I saw more than ever rough sleepers. Reading the Guardian last week and I came across an article which reported that rough sleepers are being given one way train and plane tickets to get the hell out of there. That’s what our society has become. Shocking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      And instead of compassion, our government ramps up that the reason for the homelessness is their own fault. It is never the stinginess of social benefits which are some of the lowest amongst the OECD countries. Giving tax cuts for the benefit of the well heeled doesn’t leave money for social benefits.
      Of course, the UK together with Australia suffer than same sort of twisted logic that the only way out for people to comply is…more punishment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. rangewriter Says:

    My little city of Boise has just opened the doors to its first Housing First apartment building, with more slated to come. I hope this concept works. There are still all sorts of things being worked out in this first step, but I am encouraged. There will always be those among us who cannot sustain themselves without a lot of social help. But there are also a lot of people on the streets right now because of circumstances way beyond their control, economic conditions that have destroyed the fabric of their lives. I hope we can at least get those folks back on their feet again. (And their kids!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Finland has hit the right button. The first and most important issue of homelessness is to give shelter and a home. Let’s hope that the US will be leading the way to solving the scourge of homelessness.
      Not to provide housing for the homeless is far more costly.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Well said, Gerard, and kudos to the Finns for tackling the problem head on. The problem has become so extensive here that it seems almost unsolvable. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Curt.
      The main problem is that Governments have been at great lengths to manuring the idea that those that are not successfully ‘self-made’ are so at their own fault. It is fostering ‘individualism’ to unrealistic and unachievable heights.
      We are stronger communally together than we are individually alone.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        I think it is about hope plus giving people opportunities. Then there are a certain percentage who simply need help and may always. –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        That is true, Curt.
        My brother suffered from chronic schizophrenia and his life in Australia between 1956 and 1973 was horrendous with little help or care.
        He was repatriated to the Netherlands where he was given decent accommodation and good care. He died last year at 79 years of age.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. berlioz1935 Says:

    You all said the right thing in your comments. But the politicians, whose job it is to find solutions, are scared to do anything. The market has completely failed. The speculator will go on strike and in the end, they will all blame Bill Shorten and Labor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      That might well be so, berlioz. But I hope that Shorten will grab the issue of social housing by the scruff and initiate a form of housing available to all including the homeless.
      By the time the elections are on, heaven knows what the state of homelessness will be. There could be a lot of winning votes in starting up rental controlled housing as enjoyed back in the good days.

      Like

  12. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Right on! Excellent write on an important, timely subject…worldwide.
    Thank you for writing this, Gerard!
    It’s interesting to hear what countries are doing.
    I’ve been involved in volunteer work with the homeless in two different areas. I learned so much from them as we tried to help them.
    We must give love, hope, opportunities and help.
    (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 2 people

  13. gerard oosterman Says:

    Volunteering is such an undervalued job but thankfully many are involved and just do it. I did volunteering many years ago and it was rewarding in its own way.
    The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. It is the main reason for so many now homeless.
    Hugs,
    Gerard

    Like

  14. A.P. Says:

    As a formerly homeless person, I really applaud this approach. I developed a number of problems when I was homeless that were very difficult to solve while still homeless. They are also the types of problems that were specific to living outdoors. I would not have developed those problems had I not have been homeless in the first place.

    I’ve been able to solve all those problems by getting a decent place to live for myself, almost two and a half years now. The idea that a homeless person is supposed to focus on a problem of theirs that is larger than homelessness itself is fallacious. Homelessness *is* the problem.

    Like

  15. Eugene Hardy Says:

    Thanks for the article Gerard!!

    I was once homeless in the ’92-93, and now just recently in San Diego. Thankfully, I’m in transitional housing now, but I can see homelessness, here in San Diego, the States and the developed becoming a bigger problem economically and medically.

    I think the housing first concept to be one of the simpler answers out there, but I wonder how do we change a society bent on speculation and profiteering to one that helps the human and the soul?

    Sincerely,

    Eugene Hardy

    Like

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