You see headlines like that frequently. Investigative journalism where there’s fact checking and verification is an endangered species.

Well first off the article is terrible. Their headline is not only misleading, but completely false. Finland has NOT ended homelessness. Helsinki, their capital, however has managed to almost entirely remove people from sleeping on the streets-“unsheltered” individuals. They are mostly in shelters or with friends/family couch surfing-“sheltered” homeless. That’s a little bit of good news yes but a far cry from “ending homelessness”.

“The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with “Housing First” and lead a more stable life.” OK great. Cite sources! Show me at least two studies that show, how many people were studied? How long did you observe them? What’s a “long time”?

Now Finland has had success in REDUCING UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS. This is an important distinction and you have to take into account that Finland is a Nordic country with a small, homogeneous population known for its strong social safety net paid for by high taxes. It’s very difficult to scale to somewhere like the US.
From 2008-2015 Finland accomplished the following: Source-
• Housing:
2 800 new apartments built / purchased for homeless people
• Services:
• 350 new professional support workers in housing social work
• Housing advice services have prevented 200 evictions per year
• Structural reforms:
• Housing First principle has been established
• Shelters have been replaced by supported housing units
• Social rehabilitation processes have been initiated
• Homelessness has decreased:
• In 2008 – 2014 the number of long-term homeless people has
decreased by 1 150 people.

Please note there are still about 2000 people in Finland who are unsheltered. Total homeless population stands at around 5500, source Wikipedia. I’ve read elsewhere as much as 7000.

Also note that there’s a much stronger emphasis on the wraparound or supportive services that go with. I can guarantee you they have a much more comprehensive program than anything anyone is doing in the US. This is key. They don’t just hand people keys to apartments. There’s comprehensive support that we just don’t do here.

Finally, concerning actually building affordable housing stock to implement “housing first”. Again because we’re talking about a Nordic country with high taxes and large social programs, you also have to remember Helsinki is unique:
“And there, the Finnish capital is fortunate. Helsinki owns 60,000 social housing units; one in seven residents live in city-owned housing. It also owns 70% of the land within the city limits, runs its own construction company, and has a current target of building 7,000 more new homes – of all categories – a year.”

“We own much of the land, we have a zoning monopoly, we run our own construction company,” says Riikka Karjalainen, senior planning officer. “That helped a lot with Housing First because simply, there is no way you will eradicate homelessness without a serious, big-picture housing policy.”

Show me a US city that owns most of the land in city limits, runs its own construction company, has about 14-15% of its population in city owned subsidized housing, and overall total taxation of its citizens at about 51%.