Ending Homelessnes: Government Intervention v Market Forces

In Finland — where innovation is more than just another word for privatization — they’ve managed to virtually end homelessness.

OK, so the Finns are more generous and just shell out a lot more to help the homeless, right?

Actually not. The Finns are simply smarter.

Instead of abandoning the homeless, they housed them. And that led to the insight that people tend to function better when they’re not living on the street or under a bridge.

Who would have guessed?

If we want to deal with our dysfunctional housing market more effectively than simply pushing the shelter beds closer together, the answer will involve increasing the supply of housing that isn’t based on the profit motive.

The best way to benefit low-income renters would be for government to create housing that isn’t based on the profit motive — by building housing itself or subsidizing non-profit groups to do so.

It turns out that, given a place to live, Finland’s homeless were better able to deal with addictions and other problems, not to mention handling job applications. So, more than a decade after the launch of the “Housing First” policy, 80 per cent of Finland’s homeless are doing well, still living in the housing they’d been provided with — but now paying the rent on their own.

This not only helps the homeless, it turns out to be cheaper.

Edited and paraphrased from:

How Finland managed to virtually end homelessness

By Linda McQuaig Contributing Columnist

The Toronto Star
Thu., April 20, 2023