What is the influence of political ideology on the evolution of housing policy about homelessness?
Finland is the only EU country in which homelessness continues to decrease despite the economic recession. In Finland since 1945 no single party has ever held an absolute parliamentary majority, so all cabinet or governmental decisions involve coalitions. Currently, there is a three-party coalition governing the country.
Applying the Housing First model is a continuous process, and the work changes all the time. The model will face a variety of challenges in Finland in the future. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the government’s social services and health care reform, which has been in the cards for years and this might change their ideology not through choice but for financial reasons. Housing First has financial benefits regarding saving money regarding the services needed by one person; the savings can be up to 9,600 euros a year when compared to the costs that would result from that person being homeless. Additionally, housing one long-term homeless person saves about 15,000 euros of society’s funds per year. It may be this factor that may be the catalyst that encourages political parties to continue with the evolution of homelessness strategies.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party which has been in power for ten years have been criticised by homelessness, housing and anti-poverty groups who have called for “real and urgent” action to better tackle and prevent the “human tragedy” of homelessness in Scotland. In an open letter to cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, Angela Constance, twelve of Scotland leading civil society groups said they “profoundly concerned” by the current lack of political leadership and urgency about tackling the issue, there is also concern that there isn’t a national homelessness strategy.