The homelessness crisis should be addressed through rapid support measures, such as investing in exploratory local work in cities.
Bridge week on Saturday, the UN Day against Poverty and Exclusion, is once again celebrating homeless nights. Housing is a fundamental and human right, and homelessness as a phenomenon is unsustainable for the welfare state. At the end of 2019 There were 4,600 people without a permanent home in Finland, of whom just under a thousand are long-term homeless. Homelessness is concentrated in growth centers, especially in Helsinki. Helsinki has the highest number of homeless people, both in terms of numbers and population.
Although homelessness has declined in recent years, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, it can be expected to pick up again. As a result of layoffs or dismissals, many are no longer able to pay their rent. Evictions and homelessness are increasing.
In its program, the government of Sanna Marin (sd) has outlined that it will eliminate homelessness within two parliamentary terms by 2027. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, the target threatens to escape. An even more acute challenge, however, is how to support the homeless here and now. As infection rates increase, Finland is once again on the path to closure. The nights are cold and long for the homeless even in the spring, but everyone can think about what homelessness means in the middle of winter if public spaces close their doors.
The homelessness crisis should be addressed through rapid support measures, such as investing in exploratory local work in cities. Decisions and resources from both the state and municipalities are needed to eradicate homelessness. For example, turning housing counseling into a statutory service is a step in the right direction.
However, homelessness cannot be eradicated without addressing its root causes. This means guaranteeing an adequate basic livelihood and affordable housing for all and strengthening the resources of public services, in particular mental health and substance abuse services and financial and debt counseling.
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