Since the mid 1980´s tackling homelessness has almost continuously been a focus of Government programs in Finland. During recent years Finland has been the only country in Europe where homelessness has decreased.

The Finnish Housing First approach was introduced in 2007 by a working group comprised of “Four Wise Experts” as a solution for the most vulnerable homeless people. Permanent housing based on a normal lease was seen as a fundamental solution for each homeless person. Individually tailored support services, increasing the supply of affordable rental housing and preventive measures were also part of the approach. Since then, hostels have been converted into supported housing units with independent flats for the tenants. Several new ways to support people and to improve integration in the neighborhood have been developed. Homeless policies have been based on Housing First approach since 2008. The government’s PAAVO programmes (2008-2015) targeted long-term homeless people. The present national policy programme launched by the Government in June 2016 focuses on prevention of homelessness.

Comparable data on homelessness has been available since 1987 when there were almost 19 000 homeless people in the country. Since then the number of homeless people has decreased thanks to determined action plans. Also long-term homelessness has decreased significantly since the PAAVO programmes were introduced by the Finnish government, which made the Housing First approach the default for addressing homelessness in Finland.  There are almost no rough sleepers in Finland now.  Current data for homeless people – by which we mainly mean people living with family or friends, indicate that in 2016, the number of single people in these circumstances was 6684 and the number of families, 325. As the numbers show, we have achieved important reductions in homelessness, but we feel there is still important work to do.

Action Plan for Preventing Homelessness in Finland 2016–2019

PAAVO, The Finnish National Programme to reduce long-term homelessness:

PAAVO_I_2008-2011 Final report

The Finnish Homeless Strategy – An International Review (2015)

Homeless in Finland Statistics 2018


Key resources for Finland

  • Y-Foundation
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  • Ted Talk – Juha Kaakinen – Housing First in Finland
    Read more | Go
  • The Governance of Inclusive Growth – An Overview of Country Initiatives
    Read more | Download
  • How Finland fixed homelessness
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  • Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes
    Read more

National network information

Networking for Development

Networking for Development project (2016-2019) based in Y-Foundation is an open development platform for Housing First in Finland.

The network was originally established by five non-governmental organizations working with homeless people: Y-Foundation, Helsinki Deaconess Institute, The Finnish Blue Ribbon, VVA ry (No Fixed Abode NGO) and Street Mission in Rauma region. The project is financed by STEA, the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations.

Today the network is part of the National Action Plan for Preventing Homelessness in Finland. Training, pilot projects and other activities bring together practitioners and leaders from cities, NGOs and other organisations.

Housing First information in Finnish is available in:

Networking for Development pdf