The Finnish National Programme to reduce long-term homelessness

More and more Member States of the European Union are developing homeless strategies. While more of these are still in the wealthier northern and western European countries, the achievements and initiatives in southern and eastern Europe are promising. Wealth is useful in devising strategies, but it is not a precondition. Finland’s experience in addressing homelessness confirms that the three most important elements are access to housing, social support provision and sufficient financial resources, either from employment or the welfare system, so people are able to pay for their housing. Looking at the EU consequences, the Peer Review showed that there is still an appetite, from both those with something to tell and from others with questions, for more exchange of information on strategies to address homelessness. Potential exists for the European Commission to encourage sharing of knowledge on issues such as staff training, exploration of Housing First approaches in different countries, examination of costs and benefits comparisons and promotion of exchanges between public administrations. While the Finnish programme can be classified as a very advanced example in Europe it was still useful for the host country to exchange and to receive feedback on their strategy. This made the Peer Review – together with the lively participation of all peer countries and European stakeholders in a qualified debate – a particularly interesting and pleasant experience.

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