What is the fundamental of the implications of the political and economic environment on housing policy about homelessness?
Both Scotland and Finland have had to deal with economic restraints caused by the financial crisis in 2008, and this has resulted in cuts to the social and welfare budgets which impacts on the most vulnerable. The governments have to balance their budgets using savings, and this hits the most vulnerable groups of society who are on low incomes. Poverty will increase, and in return, the risk of evictions and debt will increase putting pressure on existing services. This will increase the length of time it will take to eradicate homelessness. (Appendix 1)
Finland is the only European country where homelessness has decreased in recent years. This development is mainly due to a national programme to reduce long-term homelessness, and the housing first / housing options models were adopted as the mainstream national homelessness policy. Housing options included the use of social housing, buying flats from the private market and building new housing blocks for supported housing. Another part of the national programme was the extensive conversion of shelters and hostels into supported housing. For example, a homeless hostel with 250 beds was developed and now consists of 80 independent flats with on-site support.
The disappearance of temporary solutions like hostels has completely changed the landscape of Finnish homelessness policy in a very positive way, for vulnerable individuals and in combatting antisocial behaviour.