Reducing homelessness with better-targeted health and social services

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has launched a project for the development of health and social services that would reduce homelessness. 

The project is part of a cooperation programme initiated by the Ministry of the Environment with the goal of halving homelessness by 2023. The municipalities that had the highest number of homelessness in 2018 and various organisations active in the field of homelessness are invited to participate in the programme. 

Low-threshold health and social services can prevent homelessness

Homelessness reduction programmes have been implemented by the Ministry of the Environment during previous government terms. The evaluations of these programming periods suggested that homelessness could be prevented by providing low-threshold and mobile health and social services. 

However, not enough such services are currently available. In spring 2020, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health therefore invited applications for discretionary government grants for the development of health and social services geared to reducing homelessness. Applications were submitted by the very municipalities who participate in the cooperation programme of the Ministry of the Environment. 

In autumn 2020, new projects were launched in seven Finnish towns: Tampere, Oulu, Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Pori and Jyväskylä.

Individualised support for the most vulnerable

The idea behind the projects that were awarded a discretionary government grant is to develop client-oriented health and social services for the most vulnerable people who need extensive housing support and cross-sectoral assistance. Such groups typically include clients with substance abuse and/or mental health problems, young people, released prisoners, or immigrants.
Low-threshold services and operating models will provide individualised help for everyone’s own needs. 

The topics of the subsidised projects include: 

  • Developing mobile social work and outreach teams, or setting up permanent teams
  • Improving housing counselling 
  • Setting up low-threshold services 
  • Leveraging expertise by experience
  • Engaging the wider services field so that housing issues would be addressed by all health and social services
  • Cooperation with landlords

The current enhancement of health and social services to prevent homelessness has to do with the ongoing Future Health and Social Services Centres programme.

Further information

Mikko Hytönen, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Clients and Services in Healthcare and Social Welfare / APO, Service System Unit / PAL 0295163084