The Finnish Homelessness Strategy : From a ‘Staircase’ Model to a ‘Housing First’ Approach to Tackling Long-Term Homelessness

This paper reviews the Finnish government’s recently established Programme to Reduce Long-Term Homelessness, which is attempting to halve long-term homelessness over the period 2008 to 2011. It outlines the current homeless situation in Finland and describes the development of the present system of provision. Despite change over time, the emphasis has tended to remain on the ‘staircase’ model of provision for long-term homeless people, common across Nordic countries, which requires people to demonstrate an ability to move from one level of accommodation to another by addressing lifestyle issues, particularly problematic alcohol use. In contrast, the new programme focuses firmly on the extension of ‘housing first’ principles, already in use for some groups, to homeless people with high levels of support needs. We argue that this emphasis is to be welcomed but that there is a need for a more detailed analysis of the elements required in successful ‘housing first’ solutions.

Publication Date: 
December 2009
Journal Name: 
European Journal of Homelessness