Reader ‘s opinion Production targets are needed for student housing

Affordable student housing is an effective way to support students ’livelihoods.

Large low-income people, such as students, are particularly burdened by housing costs. In Finland, almost half of students spend more than 40 percent of their income on housing. The share is the second highest in Europe. The problem is exacerbated in large growth centers and especially in the metropolitan area.

Affordable student housing is an effective way to support students ’livelihoods. Rents for student housing can be up to 40 percent cheaper than market rents.

However, there are not enough suitable student housing for all applicants. Only about 26 percent of students live in student housing, and there is a long queue for studios in particular. More affordable and responsive student housing is needed.

The lack of suitable plots near campuses and good transport links is a key bottleneck in student housing construction. Municipalities are important enablers of student housing production through zoning and land transfers.

In Helsinki is a quantitative annual target for student housing production. This target was raised in the new implementation program for housing and related land use from 2023 onwards. The goal has been to evenly guarantee plots for student housing construction

The corresponding quantitative target for Espoo and Vantaa is still completely exhausted. Where Helsinki is handing over plots of land for student housing in a predictable way, especially in Espoo, many projects have been left on the preparation table for years. Without a concrete production target, the challenges of the process remain unidentified and unresolved.

During the 2010s, only a few new student housing projects were completed in Espoo. At the same time, the number of students has increased as a result of Aalto University’s campus decision.

Quantitative student housing production targets are needed for housing programs in the Helsinki metropolitan area, and their implementation will be monitored.

A study commissioned by the ministries in 2018 estimates that the production of student housing should be increased in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area by at least 6,000 apartments over the next ten years. Helsinki’s goal is to enable the construction of 500 student and youth apartments every year from 2023 onwards. As only part of this is student housing, the contribution of all cities in the metropolitan area is needed to achieve an annual rate of 600 apartments.

Shortage student housing is common in the metropolitan area. Resolving it requires regional coordination.

The municipalities of the Helsinki region agree on housing production targets through land use, housing and transport (mal) agreements with the state. Subsequent mal agreements must include production-specific student housing production targets.

Sophie Nyyssönen

Chairman, World Student Capital – Helsinki Metropolitan Area Students Association

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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