Housing First is an established concept in Finland since more than 15 years thanks to the Y-Foundation as a pioneer. The Y-Foundation was also one of the founding members of the Housing First Europe Hub.

In 2016 the Finish Y-Foundation together with FEANTSA established the Housing First Europe Hub. The Y-Foundation has been a key player in establishing Housing First as the main response to homelessness in Finland. Since 2007 national policies shifted towards reducing long-term homelessness through Housing First programmes.

As a result, in Finland, the utilisation of emergency and temporary accommodations, such as shelters, hostels, and temporary supported housing, has significantly declined. The number of homeless individuals residing in hostels or boarding houses decreased by 76% from 2008 to 2017. This reduction is attributed to the widespread adoption of prevention strategies, the replacement of outdated models of communal supported housing with Housing First and housing-led approaches, which largely replaced emergency shelters.

ARA, the Housing Finance and Development Centre, has also been involved in the implementation of Housing First in Finland since the start through subsidising new and renovated homes as well as giving housing advice to municipalities.

As a result, Finland is one of the only European countries that registers decreasing homelessness numbers. The country’s goal is to end homelessness in Finland all together

Our partners in Finland

  • The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA)

    The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) is a government agency operating under the Ministry of Environment. Our agency was established in 1949 to solve post-war housing shortage in Finland. Since then, we have subsidized over 1 million new homes in Finland (around 1/3 of all housing production). (source here) Nowadays we are concentrating on social rental housing, according to EU SGEI regulations. In 2020 we subsidized around 9 000 new affordable homes (around 26% of all), mainly in the Metropolitan area and other main cities. ARA’s main tasks are: • government grants, subsidies, and guarantees related to housing and construction of housing (mandate is over 2 billion euros annually) • guides and monitors the use of ARA housing stock (e.g tenants selection, level of rents) • is involved in housing development projects, like Homelessness policies, elderly and student housing, ecological construction and suburbs development • manages expert tasks and information services related to housing and housing markets, and carries out related research • oversees building energy performance certificates ARA has been involved with implementation of Housing First policy in Finland since it was started in 2008. We are subsidizing new and renovated rental housing in general and especially for homeless persons. ARA is also supporting housing advice services in municipalities. Between 2008-2020, during four government action plans, overall Homelessness in Finland has decreased -47% (from 8260 to 4341) and long-term homelessness has decreased even more, over -70%. ARA has provided Annual Report on Homelessness since 1987: you can find the latest here.

  • Y-Foundation

    Y-Säätiö (Y-Foundation) is a social housing provider and the fourth largest landlord in Finland. Its mission is to enhance social justice so that everyone can have a home. It was founded in 1985 as a response to a serious housing shortage in Finland. The organisation offers rental homes for people experiencing homelessness and those who are under a threat of becoming homeless. It operates in close cooperation with local organisations in over 50 cities and municipalities in Finland. The foundation is based in Helsinki. Y-Foundation is one of the key national developers of the Housing First principle in Finland. The foundation develops anti-homelessness efforts together with its partners in Finland and internationally. Y-Foundation manages the national Housing First Development Network in Finland and co-ordinates the Housing First Europe Hub. Y-Foundation is also closely involved in the national programmes to end homelessness. Finland is the only country in European Union where the number of homeless people is on the decline. Around 4,341 people are homeless in Finland at the moment (ARA 2021). The numbers have gone down from around 20,000 homeless in the 1980s.


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    Juha Kahila


    Country: Finland

    Languages: EnglishFinnish

    Juha has been working for 10 years in the field of homelessness. He started as a frontline support worker in 2010 for the Finnish Youth housing association services (NALPA) before becoming Housing First service manager and then CEO of NALPA. He joined Y-Säätiö in 2018 as coordinator for the National Housing First Development Network and became the Lead Coordinator in 2020 and is currently head of international affairs at Y-Säätiö. As part of his role at the Network, Juha organises training courses at national level, and is working on developing the Housing First model together with dozens of NGO’s and cities.

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    Maria Degerman


    Country: Finland

    Languages: EnglishFinnish

    Maria has started working with clients. Substance abuse, mental health, social problems and homelessness are familiar themes to her from that time. She has also designed services for these client groups and acted as Programme Manager for the Helsinki region of the programme to reduce long-term homelessness. Currently, Maria works at the Y-Foundation, where she has been for the last eleven years in various positions. She is currently working in the Housing First Network Developers and her tasks include the dissemination and mainstreaming of Housing First work, for example through trainings.

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    Mia Saarela


    Country: Finland

    Languages: EnglishFinnish

    Mia is Coordinator for the National Housing First Development Network in Finland. She is passionate about eradicating homelessness and developing new ways of approaching housing-related issues. Mia has a backround in youth housing, social services & child protection services and is also experience in networking, providing training and a platform for learning about Housing First and housing related social work.

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    Pilvi Azeem


    Country: Finland

    Languages: EnglishFinnish

    Pilvi started working on the homelessness field in Scotland in 2005 as an assertive outreach worker. After returning to Finland, Pilvi went to work with Helsinki Deaconess Institute in one of their newly opened Housing First units, providing supported living for long-term homeless people. She then had the opportunity to be part of establishing a new Housing First community-based supported housing unit for long- term homeless people. There she ensures that workers were familiar with Housing First principles and that the support work they did was in line with the Housing First principles. Pilvi is currently working as a project coordinator for the NEA project, aiming to stop women’s homelessness with a women-specific methods, and with eight multidisciplinary sub-projects.

  • Taina Hytönen photo

    Taina Hytönen

    Programme Coordinator, Housing First Europe Hub

    Country: Finland

    Taina works as the Manager of International Work in Y-Foundation in Finland. After social studies at the University of Helsinki she worked at the city of Helsinki to develop services for people with addictions and mental health problems. Since 1999 she has worked in Y-Foundation. Her first role was to build networks with partner organisations to provide services for the tenants. She has also coordinated the national development network on Housing First and since 2016 her main role has been as a Programme Coordinator for the Housing First Europe Hub.   Taina is particularly involved in coordinating the training, community of practice and associate workstreams of the Hub. Languages: Finnish, English. Contact Taina: