In 2007, Finland adopted a “Housing First” policy. This approach, building on efforts Finland has adopted since the 1980s, uses “housing as a starting point rather than an end goal“. In other words: providing housing is the absolute first step, and then other support and services can be in addition to that.

Housing First contrasts with the traditional ‘Staircase Model’, which requires homeless people to abstain from drugs and alcohol and get their lives back on track before they are eligible for housing. Housing First is structured to encourage a permanent exit from homelessness and, according to the data, the objective seems to be being achieved, with research showing that it generally ends homelessness for at least 8/10 people.

Providing a house immediately for homeless people becomes a great incentive for social integration, allows a safe environment that increases the effectiveness of treatment and, most importantly, returns autonomy to the individual.

That said, it’s not all roses in the state of Finland. Although there are almost no rough sleepers on the city streets, it has not entirely eradicated homelessness, with roughly 4,600 individuals and 264 families without a roof over their head. Critics argue that a Housing First approach is expensive and takes a long time to bear fruit (Finland began its approach in the 1980s), and in the short-term can divert resources from other programmes. Some also caution that Housing First should not be seen as a silver bullet, and can only work as one part of the solution.

What do our readers think? We had comments sent in from Julia, João, and Chris on homelessness and housing in Europe. To get a response, we put them to Leïla Chaibi, a French MEP who is Vice-Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and sits with The Left group in the European Parliament. You can see her responses in the video at the top of this post.

Should we give every homeless person a home? Can we learn from our Scandinavian neighbours and decrease homelessness across Europe by employing the Housing First model? Could we someday be able to eradicate homelessness altogether? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – Srdjanns74
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31 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I see housing as a human right .But I also see housing as intergral to the health of society .First we are discussing developed countries and the resouces they have . To me the benefits out weigh the costs .Housing is like a base .A person with housing has a better chance to find and secure employment , pay taxes ,and benefit the economy as a whole .secondly it turns out the costs are actually lower . Affordable housing enables public funds to go into other areas of need . From a pragmatic cost benefit perspective it makes sense . From an ethical moral and social perspective it also relates to the functioning of what kind of society it becomes . In my opinion not everything should be on the market or commoditized ,Some areas should be for the public good and health of community ,commons and country . Thats why we have public infustructure and non profits . Another question is why there are so many homeless now when at one time there wasn’t .

  2. avatar

    We already do. But homeless do not want them.

    • avatar

      Tobias Stricker, do we? I doubt that, because we can’t even build enough social housing. But housing first should be the policy when it comes to homelessness.

    • avatar

      Yes, we do.

    • avatar


    • avatar

      At least in Germany, everyone has the right on housing. If you earn too little, the state pays. Homeless can go to any “Sozialamt” and demand accommodation. They have priority. Normally, within days or weeks, they get a small flat of up to 56 sq.m.
      The problem is that basically all homeless are mentally severe sick. Otherwise they wouldn’t be homeless. Because of their mental problems, they normally do not stay in the flat they receive.
      The homeless crisis is in reality a mental health crisis in Western Europe.

    • avatar

      here in Belgium this is not the case. And I think that part of the problem might also be that you would make this fact known in the homeless community that they can ask for accomodation. It should also be a given that homeless people who are given new accomodations should be given support and be followed up by someone to help them reintegrate in society.

  3. avatar

    Maybe each EU country and others need to get their head aro9und how many of their population fall into such category and ensure each successive government enables that percentage of housing availability

  4. avatar

    YES..a roof over the head is very all extreams of weather ..wherever you are ..please..we must strive for this..greetings from Ireland :D

  5. avatar

    The new liberalism will create more and more rich and much more poor and homeless

  6. avatar

    The fact that you also consider the possibility of the answer “NO” shows how EU is useless.

  7. avatar

    Look at Finland and learn. In the whole country, population 5.55 million, there were 3,948 homeless people at the end of 2021. That is 0.07% of the population.

  8. avatar

    Give them jobs!!! And a place to stay! You give millions to refugees..look after your own small businesses too with low interests or no interest at all..

  9. avatar


  10. avatar

    Maybe we should welcome less illegal migrants thanks to europe to care and give home to our nationals

  11. avatar

    Every human being all over the world should have a place,a shelter,a home .Especially in europe,supposedly a wealthy part of the world , were it should be inscribed in their constitution.Every european citizen should be granted by the state a 50 square meters free and tax free, for life.We have all the means to do that…. but ……selfishness prevails.

  12. avatar

    Considering that we pride ourselves to have progressive and humanistic values, yes. Considering that I hate how US and Canada consider normal to have people in the streets (and in Canada to let them die in the cold in winter), I certainly expect Europe can show a better way. Like proper health and free education, the long term benefits for sure outweigh the costs.

  13. avatar
    JT HK

    Chinese people said to reduce poverty is to teach them to do fishing not to give them fishes. Why these people become homeless? When Europe is in an economic slump as of the time, no government has the financial means to take care of the vulnerable ones while money are draining to Ukraine. This is an indirect murder of the the Ukrainians and Europeans.

  14. avatar

    Yes! I just remembered that I can’t pay rent anymore. One house, please.

    • avatar

      are you sure you don’t have apartment in different part of the country? 🙂

    • avatar

      not a single one. I am basically homeless. I just don’t know why I bother working and paying rent when “they” can just provide a home for me.

  15. avatar

    Yes, the governments should have a special program for them. Some they need homes, some they need institutions.

  16. avatar

    to whom… do you include illegal migrants or do you inte’d to focus on europeans

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