“We decided to make the housing unconditional,” says Kaakinen. “To say, look, you don’t need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.”
With state, municipal and NGO backing, flats were bought, new blocks built and old shelters converted into permanent, comfortable homes – among them the Rukkila homeless hostel in the Helsinki suburb of Malminkartano where Ainesmaa now lives.
They didn’t create a giveaway program. Read the article to find out how they improved the problem. Meanwhile, in LA where they have thrown more money at the problem without considering new ideas, homelessness has risen by 16%.
“The residents are seeing more encampments, more people sleeping on the sidewalks in dirty, unhealthy and heartbreaking conditions,” she said. “They are frustrated by this problem. We need to give people answers.”
Lynn pointed to two vulnerable groups as proof that resources work. Even though nearly 3,000 more veterans were reported homeless last year, there was no noticeable change in the number of homeless veterans on the street. Families experiencing homelessness grew by 8% with nearly 8,000 families being provided homes.
One of the largest increases, however, was among people 18 to 24 years old. Lynn said a 24% jump was partly the result of a change in the methodology of the count. But still, he said, “there was a significant increase, many more unsheltered. We were able to house more youth this year than last year, but this is an overflow population.”
Maybe Los Angeles and other cities should try what is being done in Helsinki, mercy.