AHURI News

How did Finland solve homelessness? Expert to speak at National Homelessness Conference

Juha Kaakinen from the Y-Foundation confirmed as 2nd International keynote

18 April 2018


Mr Juha Kaakinen

Mr Juha Kaakinen, Chief Executive of Y-Foundation, which is one of the drivers behind Finland being the only European country to reduce homelessness, will be a key speaker at the upcoming National Homelessness Conference.

Y-Foundation is a social enterprise that acquires flats from the private market to provide housing to homeless people using a ‘Housing First’ model. The organisation operates under the principle that when a homeless person has a permanent home it can make solving any underlying health and social problems much easier.

The Finnish program—established in 2007—offers homeless people permanent housing and service support tailored to their specific needs. In 2008 Finland recorded just over 3,500 rough sleepers, by 2016 this had fallen to about 2,000, a fall of around 43 per cent.

The success has been driven by a national homelessness strategy implemented in 2008 that relies on cooperation between different levels of government and NGO’s.

‘There is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it,’ said Mr Kaakinen in an interview with The Guardian. ‘Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.’

The great success of the Y-Foundation program is based on the involvement and partnership of a wide range of organisations, including the state, volunteers, municipalities and NGOs.

Prior to working with Y-Foundation, Mr Kaakinen worked for the Finnish Ministry of the Environment as Program Leader of the National Program to reduce long-term homelessness. He was also the Secretary of the working Group of “Wise People” appointed by the Ministry of Housing to formulate the basic principles for the Homelessness Reduction Program.

The National Homelessness Conference, Ending Homelessness Together, will take place on the 6 and 7 August 2018 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. For further information and to register, please visit the conference page.