A Finnish Solution


Last night’s homeless statistics revealed a total of 10,305 people had accessed emergency accommodation in the month of March.

Philip O’Connor writes:

Last month, to mark the fact that 10,000 Irish people found themselves officially homeless, I published an interview I did in Helsinki with Juha Kaakinen (above).

Juha is the man behind the policies that have seen homelessness in Finland drop drastically since they were introduced (see graph, centre).

These are tried, tested and successful solution that are working in a country with a similar population to Ireland’s.

Now, a lot of political people follow me on Twitter, and I know they have seen this interview – not only that, but Juha has also been to Ireland to speak on this very subject.

The figure that originally prompted me to publish the interview in full has since risen to 10,300. Of them, over 3000 are children.

The only logical conclusion one can draw is not that Irish politicians are ignorant of how the problem of homelessness must be solved. It is that they are very much aware of what they need to do, but they choose not to.

To put it bluntly, the people in power in Ireland are ideologically opposed to doing what is necessary to solve the crises of homelessness and housing. That’s fine – Ireland voted for them, and we have to own our democratic choices.

But whether you are a politician in a power or a voter heading to the ballot box, from the moment you hear what Juha Kaakinen has to say, you can no longer say that you didn’t know.

Philip O’Connor is an Irish freelance journalist living in Stockholm. You can support his work by visiting his Patreon account here

Last night: 10.305

13 thoughts on “A Finnish Solution

    1. UbiquitousIE

      It’s also to use visible poverty as a deterrent. Salaries are the carrot, homelessness is the stick. Brutalising the poor is a tried and true method which the USA has used for the last 50 years to drive economic growth and which our Fine Fails copy as much as they can get away with. The UK has also gone down this route. Obviously the wheels are coming off now for the USA and UK as people can only take so much before they turn to self-destructive populism. That’s coming to Ireland soon also, especially as the salaries are drying up.

    2. Jonickal

      This problem needs a solution, but the solution will not come from crazy senseless rants like this.

  1. Junkface

    Very interesting video. The Irish Government refuse to take charge of house or apartment building, as he said, the private housing market will NEVER solve the situation. It is a Governments responsibility

  2. Qwerty123

    Approx half of the people declared homeless are in Dublin

    Rates up to 2800 paid to people in Dublin on HAP, have to be homeless and tax breaks and incentives for landlords also(rent paid direct etc) – http://hap.ie/homeless-hap/

    I mean there is a very big incentive (2800pm rent paid) to be homeless and get a property under the homeless HAP scheme, that equates to around 40k a year gross if you were a PAYE worker.

    People respond to incentives. Similar story with child benefit, as it stand, it will be the case that only very rich or poor people will be able to have kids and live in Dublin.

      1. Cian

        If you choose the lowest point for property for 20 years and compare to wages you will get this sort of biased headline. If we were to baseline the property prices back to 2007 we’d get a very different story (still biased, but in the opposite direction).

        year Average house price average wage
        2007     €349,329     €32,279
        2011     €246,961     €31,374
                  -29%     -3%
        Between 2007 and 2011, property prices dropped at ten times the rate of wages

  3. eoin

    Ah whoisht Philip, isn’t the government solving the housing crisis by entering into public private partnerships with bankers and others which will cost FIVE times what social housing would cost us if undertaken by a local authority. And what about those €500,000 a unit (excluding site costs of around €100,000 each) homes for social housing in O’Devaney Gardens. And what about the rapid build homes that only take two years to build. And what about €60,000 a year to house a family in a hotel room in Dublin.

    The Finnish solutions would be far too practical and shure, how would any of the government’s cronies make any money out of it.

  4. Cian

    So what exactly is the Finnish model? (serious question)

    It isn’t the government directly building social housing.

    It seems to be done through a foundation, and the foundation manages the housing stock, rental, rent collection, as well as providing social services . But I can’t see who actually owns the properties, or how it is funded.

    Is it different to the Irish model of Housing Associations (like Clúid or Peter McVerry)?

  5. SOQ

    One point not mentioned here is political motivation and more importantly the reason for it. Finnish winters are very cold and nobody can last very long in such conditions, therefore the homeless death toll is very high.

    Even in Ireland we can miraculously find some sort of accommodation during bad weather and callous as it sounds, that is IMO primarily due to the public uproar when in quick succession, a series of people die preventable deaths .

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