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Finland observes partially virtual Night of the Homeless

Finland had nearly 5,000 homeless individuals and close to 300 indigent families and couples at the end of last year. 

Markku Korhonen asuu sillan alla.
File photo of a man who lived under a bridge. Image: Mari Jäntti / Yle

Finland observes the Night of the Homeless on Saturday as part of the UN's anti-poverty goals.

The theme of this year’s commemoration is Home Sweet Home. Because of the coronavirus epidemic, some events will be held online.

The National Museum in Helsinki will host a panel discussion that will be streamed online. Meanwhile NGOs will organise free meals, clothing and health checks for homeless people in different parts of the capital.

Additionally, people in need will also be able to receive debt and housing counselling both face-to-face and online.

Homelessness in decline

Statistics from the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) indicate that Finland nearly 4,600 homeless single individuals and 264 indigent families and couples at the end of last year. The numbers have been declining for the past seven years.

The organisation also noted that the number of long-term homeless people had fallen to fewer than 1,000 in 2019. Homelessness affected a total of 97 municipalities in Finland, and was particularly evident in large cities, it added.

Roughly half of Finland's destitute live in the capital region, and one-third of that number are in Helsinki.

Finland has commemorated the Night of the Homeless on 17 October, the same day of the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, since 2002.

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