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More than a thousand asylum seekers housed in 2017 so far

Some 1,300 asylum seekers have left their temporary lodgings in reception centres in Finland so far this year. Municipalities are expected to make at least 4,000 housing places available by the end of the year.

Nainen tutkii maahanmuuttoviraston infopakettia liittyen turvapaikan hakemiseen Suomesta.
The overall municipal housing placement quota of 4,000 apartments has nearly been reached in Finland, says the Ministry of Employment. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Just under 1,300 asylum seekers have received residence permits and moved out of Finnish reception centres so far this year. About 800 of them were housed in allotted municipal placements.

Some 200 quota refugees have entered Finland in the past three months. They are immediately eligible for municipal housing.

According to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, all 16 of Finland's Centres for Economic Development (ELY centres) should cooperate with municipalities to provide at least 4,000 housing slots.

The government will compensate municipalities for integration support measures – for three years running for those with residence permits, and for four years running for quota refugees.

9,000 housing units needed

Development chief Tarja Rantala from the Ministry of Employment says that the municipal vacancies have almost been filled: more than 3,000 places are already available.

"Municipalities have done well with their bonus funds and are much more ready to offer housing. Of course more homes could be provided if possible; the Immigration Service's target is actually nearly 9,000 slots," Rantala says.

Asylum seekers have moved out of reception centres in three main ways: independently without outside assistance, aided by a reception centre or via ELY centres.

"Good pace"

Rantala says that each Centre for Economic Development is different. Migrants are constantly arriving at the Uusimaa centre, for instance, whereas smaller areas receive little or no migrant traffic.

"Asylum seekers are keen to move to the capital region from elsewhere in the country, and that leads to a housing problem," says Rantala. "South-east Finland particularly is special in that there asylum seeker housing is arranged broadly, with no municipal quota."

The Helsinki-focused situation is changing, however. An estimated three out of four migrants with residence permits opt to stay in the region where they are first placed upon arrival. Most of the rest move away to Uusimaa.

Arja Harmainen, chief of the Central Finland ELY centre says that the biggest hurdle when it comes to migrant housing is the unavailability of suitable apartments, rather than the unwillingness of municipalities to take in asylum recipients.

"Municipal placements have been utilised more actively early this year than in 2016," she says. "This winter the pace as been good."

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