The Night of the Homeless, an annual theme day focusing on poverty and social exclusion, is celebrated on 17 October 2019. This year, the day’s event in Helsinki is held in Sörnäinen in the style of a street festival, with happenings at the Vaasanaukio square and on the streets of Vaasankatu and Kinaporinkatu from 16:00–22:00. The event is open to everybody and free of charge. The patron of the Night of the Homeless in Helsinki is the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö.
A panel discussion on homelessness at Vaasanaukio, starting at 18:00, is joined by:
- Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
- Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior
- Petri Honkonen, Centre Party Vice Chair
- Sanna Vesikansa, Helsinki Deputy Mayor for Social Services and Health Care
- Eva Biaudet, Member of Parliament
- Suldaan Said Ahmed, Helsinki City Councillor
- Experts on the theme with firsthand experience in homelessness
The Night of the Homeless is the largest annual event focusing on social and health policies in Finland. The Helsinki event this year is joined by 36 active players in the theme, which is an all-time record in Helsinki. The organizer of the event is The Night of the Homeless citizens’ movement.
Finland is the only country in Finland that has managed to reduce homelessness in recent years.
“Women of shadows” as the year’s special theme
The Night of the Homeless events of 2019 put a special emphasis on homeless women. There were more than 1,200 solitary homeless women in Finland in 2018. Their number in Helsinki was approximately 650. (Source ARA: Asunnottomat 2018, a report on homelessness in 2018 by the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland ARA, 5 March 2019.) Homeless women are exposed to diverse exploitation, and many experience violence. Many women’s experiences are closely tied with family, children and motherhood.
Following The Night of the Homeless on 18 October, the Sininauhasäätiö group opens the first day centre for women in Helsinki, located at the corner of Ruusulankatu and Sibeliuksenkatu in Töölö. The day centre is open from 10:00–14:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at first, and the opening hours will be extended as necessary.
When homeless people obtain homes of their own, many of their health and other social problems can be solved at the same time. Housing First is a model for solving homelessness. The core idea of Housing First is to prioritize housing over other support activities. More about Housing First in Finnish at https://asuntoensin.fi/