How Finland eliminated homelessness: The idea that is coming to the UK

Helsinki Credit: ITV News

More families in the UK will spend Christmas 2017 in temporary accommodation that at any other point in the last 10 years.

Government figures show that in England alone, there are 79,190 families living in temporary accommodation, a six percent rise since September, and 65% higher than in 2010.

Yet in Finland, there is no such problem.

The country has eliminated homelessness through its "housing first" policy which offers people who need them permanent places to call home.

Following its success in the Scandinavian country, the scheme is about to be trialled in Liverpool, Manchester and the West Midlands.

As permanent homes in Finland are built, temporary accommodation is closed down. Credit: ITV News

Prior to be offered a permanent home, Miguel Rojas spent two years living on the streets, battling depression and alcohol addiction.

Having a permanent home has offered him security and boosted his self-esteem.

"To know that I can make future plans for like five years, seven years from now is very important for the security, for the self, the realisation of the person that you have that place no matter what," he said.

Prior to being offered a home, Miguel Rojas was homeless for two years. Credit: ITV News

In the UK, £28 million has been allocated for the three trials to take place, yet in Finland, the scheme is paying for itself as having a home makes it easier for people who have been homeless to tackle the issues that may be the reason behind their lack of housing.

"For a very long time we did it [tackled homelessness] in the traditional way," Helsinki's deputy mayor, Sanna Vesikansa explained.

She continued: "We realised that people don't get rid of their difficult situation and it's very difficult to work on other problems they have if always in the morning they go out on the streets and come back just for the night."

Helsinki's deputy mayor says the 'housing first' scheme pays for itself. Credit: ITV News

Under the "housing first" scheme, as more permanent housing is built, temporary accommodation is shut down.

Just 10 years ago in Helsinki there were 600 hostel beds, now there are just 50.

Juha Kaakinen, the architect of Finland's revolutionary scheme and Y-Foundation CEO, explained that while "The scope of the problem is different" in the UK, "the basic principles [of the reasons behind homelessness] apply."

Rather than "words and speeches", all that is needed is "more action and a lot more affordable housing", he explained.

More action on homelessness is needed in the UK, Juha Kaakinen believes. Credit: ITV News