Earlier this autumn YSS, Yhdyskuntasuunnittelun Seura, or the Finnish Society for Housing and Planning, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a seminar and a party. Yesterday they had a pikkujoulu (Christmas party) where they announced the winners of this year’s competition for good and bad planning. Bizarrely, the bad was left undecided.
However, the “roses” for good work went to Helka for ther Kaikkien Helsinki (everybody’s Helsinki) programme of activities to combat homelessness. Among other things, they canvassed Helsinkians’ views of homelessness and hostels and found that more people were positive or neutral about them than negative. Helka is a network of Helsinki-based neighbourhood associations with a fabulous website with links to all kinds of interesting stuff.
YSS saw that Helka’s work on homelessness was a particularly welcome exception to the rule of negative coverage in the media and in local discussions where hostels and services tend to be automatically represented as unwanted – unless you’re one of those without a roof over your head. The Environment Ministry also has a programme for reducing homelessness, called PAAVO (for Pitkäaikaisasunnottomuuden vähentämisohjelma!). The Helsinki region’s homeless population is around 4000, going down in the long term, but not steadily. In weather like this, it’s good to know both active citizens and active government departments take care.
When I took this photo yesterday it didn’t even occur to me to think about sleeping rough.