Homeless Immigrants in Finland

National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (Stakes) The Y-Foundation European Observatory on Homelessness

Anna Mikkonen Sirkka-Liisa Kärkkäinen

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Preface Homelessness among immigrants has not been widely discussed in Finland and hardly any research has been done on it. Recently, however, the problem has become more pressing, as in other countries. FEANTSA (The Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless) placed homelessness among immigrants on its agenda for 2002. In addition to holding seminars the national organisations in each country wrote a report on the issue; the Finnish report “Immigration and Homelessness. Feantsa Questionnaire – Finland” was written by Anna Mikkonen in July 2002. The European Observatory on Homelessness subordinate to FEANTSA has consequently concentrated on this theme, too. This national report for Finland was written for the Observatory. Its purpose is, in addition to being a national report, to give an overview of the system for receiving immigrants, their housing arrangements and homelessness. There is not much material available in English on this topic in Finland. The report will probably be published later in Finland in the Themes series of Stakes (The National Research and Development Centre for Social Welfare and Health). Researcher Anna Mikkonen wrote the report and did the bulk of the work, drawing partly on written material, research reports, administrative reports and other documents. In October 2002 the first research report dealing with homelessness among immigrants in Helsinki was published in Finnish by the Ministry of the Environment and was of great use to the present report. Furthermore, Anna Mikkonen has interviewed many service providers and other professionals working with immigrants and homeless people. The author and I would like to thank these persons warmly for the information they supplied. The undersigned, researcher Sirkka-Liisa Kärkkäinen from The National Research and Development Centre for Social Welfare and Health, supervised the project and contributed to the writing-up process by reading and commenting on the text. The Y-Foundation has assisted the report in many ways. Its Director, Hannu Puttonen, took an active part in its writing by commenting on the text on several occasions. Kati Utriainen has helped in a great variety of technical and practical matters. For this we wish to thank them and the Y-Foundation. Leena-Maija Qvist from the Ministry of Labour has been the expert on immigration. She has helped the project from the very beginning and given many valuable comments on the text, for which we would like to thank her. Helsinki, 1 November 2002 Sirkka-Liisa Kärkkäinen, Researcher Stakes (The National Research and Development Centre for Social Welfare and Health) Finnish correspondent in the European Observatory on Homelessness

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Table of Contents Introduction ................................................................................................................. 4 1 Definitions and methodology.............................................................................. 5 2 The Nordic welfare state, social security system and social housing ............ 6 2.1 Social protection................................................................................................. 6 2.2 Social housing .................................................................................................... 7 3 Immigration .......................................................................................................... 8 3.1 Waves of immigration ......................................................................................... 8 3.2 Finnish refugee policy....................................................................................... 10 3.3 Immigrant groups ............................................................................................. 12 3.4 Few illegal immigrants ...................................................................................... 14 4 Finnish legislation ............................................................................................. 15 4.1 The Aliens Act .................................................................................................. 15 4.2 Act on Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers................ 15 4.3 Government programmes................................................................................. 16 4.4 Statuses of asylum seekers and refugees........................................................ 16 5 Reception and integration of immigrants ........................................................ 17 5.1 Administration of immigration affairs ................................................................ 17 5.2 Reception centres for asylum seekers.............................................................. 18 5.3 The reception system for refugees and immigrants.......................................... 19 5.4 Reception of Ingrian Finns................................................................................ 20 5.5 Integration policies ........................................................................................... 21 5.6 Employment and unemployment of immigrants................................................ 22 6 Residential arrangements for immigrants ....................................................... 23 6.1 Municipalities provide refugees’ first home....................................................... 23 6.2 Housing conditions of immigrants..................................................................... 24 6.3 Concentration of immigrants in the metropolitan region and other cities .......... 26 7 Homelessness among immigrants................................................................... 28 7.1 Homelessness in general in Finland................................................................. 28 7.2 Homeless immigrants ....................................................................................... 29 7.3 Statistics of homeless Finns and immigrants in different cities......................... 31 8 Services for the homeless and immigrants ..................................................... 32 8.1 Municipal Units for Immigrant Services ............................................................ 32 8.2 The Y-Foundation............................................................................................. 32 8.3 Special social welfare office for homeless persons in Helsinki ......................... 33 8.4 Dormitories in the metropolitan region.............................................................. 33 8.5 Refuge for women in Helsinki........................................................................... 34 8.6 Special services for immigrants........................................................................ 34 9 Homelessness among immigrant groups........................................................ 35 9.1 Homeless immigrant groups: special features.................................................. 35 9.2 Gender division of homeless immigrants.......................................................... 36 9.3 Immigrants in dormitories for homeless people ................................................ 36 10 Young immigrants ............................................................................................. 38 10.1 Homelessness among young immigrants......................................................... 38 10.2 No street children in Finland............................................................................. 39 10.3 Cultural and inter-generational conflicts ........................................................... 39 10.4 Services for young immigrants ......................................................................... 40 11 Discussion: Reasons for homelessness among immigrants ........................ 42

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.... inter-generational and problems and services for them............. 46 11....................... Up to the end of the 1980s.................4 Integration problems and lack of support networks cause homelessness ..2 Secondary migration of refugees and Ingrian Finns towards cities ......................... 4 ........ 47 12 Recommendations . 55 Introduction Finland has traditionally been a country of emigration.11.. Since the mid 1990s.... The twelfth chapter lists some good practices and recommendations..... 43 11........ 45 11. which is the lowest of any EU Member State................. 45 11....... 19.. 48 13 Conclusions ...... There is not much illegal immigration.... The rise in immigration in the 1990s began when ethnic Ingrian Finns and their families were offered returnee status... Conclusions are presented in the last chapter. Finland has very few asylum seekers............... secondary migration inside Finland towards the cities and lack of support networks......3 Many immigrants stay with relatives and acquaintances ...... The next chapter is about young immigrants: their housing situation............... Asylum seekers and refugees....Error! Bookmark not defined..... The second is a short introduction to the Nordic welfare system and social housing... immigration of Ingrian Finns and the employment situation of immigrants.......................... who arrived in Finland seeking asylum. 44 11..... Homelessness among different immigrant groups and the situation of immigrants living in dormitories are portrayed in the ninth chapter.......... The first chapter defines the terms and methodology used......................... such as cultural housing problems...... describes the administration of immigration affairs..... The fifth chapter concentrates on the reception and integration of immigrants.. The reasons for homelessness. when the number of foreigners residing in Finland multiplied and the increase in the number of immigrants was the fastest in Europe.....5 Structural housing matters cause homelessness ..... Compared with many other Western countries.. Waves of immigration....... However.. most of the immigrants were migrants returning from Sweden......2 million.................. the proportion of foreign citizens is still about two per cent of the total population of 5...................... The seventh chapter is about homelessness in general and that of immigrants in Finland.... Another group with a considerable impact on the immigration statistics in the early 1990s was the Somalis..... The immigration situation changed considerably during the 1990s......6 Difficult for immigrants to find a dwelling after eviction . Finnish refugee policy and the various immigrant groups residing in Finland are described in the third chapter........... the annual rate of increase in foreigners in Finland has slowed down.... Finland began to receive small numbers of quota refugees in the 1970s and 1980s. The next chapter is about the residential arrangements for refugees and other immigrants and the concentration of immigrants in the metropolitan region and other cities in Southern Finland... The next chapter describes services for homeless persons and special services for immigrants.........) This report gives an overview of housing and homelessness among immigrants in Finland........ are discussed in the eleventh chapter........................... (Sorainen 2001..... The forth chapter is about the relevant laws and legal statuses of foreigners.1 Housing problems the cause of immigrant homelessness...............

• Political opinion. or who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home country for one of the following reasons: • Race. Doherty & Meert 2001. 13). • Nationality. • Religion. (The Ministry of Labour 1998b. 14). Estonia and other parts of the former Soviet Union they hold ‘returnee’ status in Finland. those insecurely housed and those inadequately housed (Edgar. in institutions or temporarily with relatives or friends due to lack of housing (see e.) Ingrian Finns are Ingrians of Finnish descent. Together with members of their family from Russia. 225.) In the Finnish context a distinction is often made between refugees. This report includes all these groups under the term immigrant. 11). It includes subtenants. • Membership of a particular social group. These re-migrants are often included under Russians and Estonians in the statistics. the immigrant is capable of living independently. This definition has four components: the roofless. It is a general concept used to describe all persons moving into a country: refugees. Asylum seekers are persons who seek safety in a foreign country because they have been persecuted in their own country. living with parents and sharing an apartment (Rastas 2002. Kärkkäinen 1999. The definition of homelessness of the European Observatory on Homelessness (Feantsa) is also taken into account. but refugees and Ingrian Finns are often mentioned separately because of the special arrangements that compensate local authorities for receiving refugees and Ingrians. (Lepola 2002.) The term integration refers to the process during which the immigrant finds a place in the new country of residence. Secondary homelessness refers to a housing situation in which a dwelling is shared with other people.1 Definitions and methodology Finland and this report define homeless persons as those living outdoors. functioning actively in society and maintaining his cultural identity even when it deviates from the majority culture of the country. (Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951. (Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1999. the houseless.g.) 5 . Ingrian Finns (see below) and other immigrants. An immigrant is a person who moves to a country with a view to living there permanently. Immigrants who have been granted Finnish citizenship are also regarded as immigrants even though they are not often visible in the statistics. immigrants and returnees. in temporary shelters and hostels for homeless people. If it is successful.

for example. including those of immigrants. The Finnish legislation applies the terms of the international conventions on children to all children. 6 . the names of interviewees are not mentioned in the text. social security system and social housing Social protection The Finnish Constitution guarantees all residents equality. human rights and basic social security. Helsinki. This report focuses on the metropolitan region in Finland (the capital. Finland has a residence-based social security system. Low-income single persons and households are eligible for housing allowance to lower their housing costs. However. and visits to service providers. this is important for homeless persons and immigrants. Even though the focus is on the metropolitan region. the main responsibility for the provision of social welfare and health services lies with the public sector. it has a high concentration of other immigrants and the biggest homelessness problem in Finland. and its neighbouring cities. Espoo and Vantaa) because both homelessness and immigration are concentrated in the Finnish cities. other cities and the overall situation in Finland are also taken into consideration. All persons are eligible for the basic social benefits regardless of employment history.1 The Nordic welfare state. for example.) Major items in Finland’s social protection are the universal programmes to provide subsistence and services for persons outside the labour force. Over half the total 10 000 homeless persons live in Helsinki (Korhonen 2002).) Both the social security benefits and the health services are mainly financed by taxes. 2 2. The overall concept professionals or personnel working with immigrants or homeless people is generally used instead of the names of persons or the places where they work. Kärkkäinen 2001. Under Finnish law. the right to social benefits and health services is linked with residence. democracy. (Kärkkäinen 1996. Many special services for refugees and immigrants are located in Helsinki. not with. Helsinki has received a quarter of all the refugees in Finland. The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as providers of social services is only secondary and complementary compared with that of the local authorities. Kärkkäinen 2001. citizenship or individual insurance. (Kärkkäinen 1996. services are produced at local level by the municipal authorities. The level of the 1 For reasons of anonymity. authorities and other experts working with immigrants and homeless people (see References)1. the importance of NGOs as service providers has recently increased.Methodology This report is based on a questionnaire “Immigrants and Homelessness in Finland” made for Feantsa (the Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless) in July 2002 (Mikkonen 2002). In practice. The living allowance is a last-resort form of subsistence. The information for the report is taken from two sources: literature and research on immigration and homelessness. Thus. Basic health services are provided for all by the municipal health care system.

11-14. this housing policy instrument has ceased to be important. poverty and marginalisation have increased lately and these problems also affect immigrants.) Housing is subsidised by means of state loans and rent subsidies for new housing and renovation. The municipal housing authorities ratify the rent to be charged and the companies that get subsidies must be non-profit making. Kärkkäinen 2001. Owner-occupancy is dominant and about 60 per cent of Finnish households own their home. The state-subsidised rental housing is extremely important to low-income persons and households and to refugees. small apartments purchased by the local authorities and housing purchased by the Y-Foundation2.) Municipal social housing is the chief way of housing homeless persons in Helsinki (Korhonen 2002). 23-28. Kärkkäinen 2001. while the interest rate on state loans has not. (Kärkkäinen 1996. (Kärkkäinen 1996. The lower interest rate than that prevailing on the market on loans used to be a common form of government subsidy for social rental housing. (Kärkkäinen 1996. (Kärkkäinen 1996. the social housing stock is well equipped. However. For more information.) 2. especially those for the minimum subsistence. Hannikainen & Heikkilä 1998. the interest rate on the market has recently fallen considerably. The shortage of rental dwellings and especially of small dwellings with reasonable rents is a serious problem in the cities. (Kärkkäinen 1996. 28-30.benefits. The state imposes regulated price and certain quality criteria on the housing it subsidises. Kärkkäinen. Municipalities and NGOs can apply for special loans and subsidies from the Housing Fund of Finland in order to provide dwellings for the homeless. Ingrians and other 2 The Y-Foundation is the biggest non-governmental organisation in Finland providing housing for the homeless and refugees.) Homeless persons have been housed in either new or vacant state-subsidised rental dwellings. Consequently. about one third of them for refugees.) The occupant of a municipal dwelling pays the costs of servicing the loan and a maintenance fee in the rent and the housing is financed entirely out of income from rents. The Foundation chiefly purchases individual apartments in normal housing companies in an attempt to avoid the formation of areas and blocks of houses with a social bias and to prevent them from degenerating into slums. Thus. Loans can be used to purchase dwellings from housing companies in ordinary housing areas. Kärkkäinen 2001. see… 7 . Half of the rental housing stock is state-subsidised social housing and consequently regulated. Loans granted by the Housing Fund of Finland account for a major part of the building costs of the rental housing.2 Social housing The general standard of housing is relatively high in Finland. Kärkkäinen 2001. (Kärkkäinen 1996. practical and of a good basic amenity level. Social housing is wherever possible planned according to a policy of social mixing in order to avoid residential segregation.) Even though the social security system is comprehensive. refugees and Roma minority. was cut in the 1990s. The Y-Foundation owns over 4 000 dwellings around the country.

52-53. In the 1980s a typical immigrant was a returning Finn from Sweden. about one million Finns are estimated to have emigrated from Finland. increased and emigration to that country started to slow down. 1). It is more common for immigrants to live in rented dwellings than for Finns. (Rastas 2002. Immigration and emigration 1945-2000 (Source: Population statistics. Social housing can be given to refugees as the first residence a municipality is obliged to provide. Kärkkäinen 1996. There are clearly fewer immigrants and refugees in Finland than in the other Nordic countries. The Migration Institute. The local authorities supervise the selection of occupants. such as the homeless. Sweden. however. In practice.immigrants. (Statistics Finland 2001. only immigrants who are staying in the country permanently can get a municipal dwelling. In the 1990s immigration from Sweden.) Unlike in some other European countries. Statistics Finland.1 Immigration Waves of immigration During the 20th century. 10. 29). (Kärkkäinen & Hannikainen & Heikkilä 1998.) 3 3. This partly explains the small number of foreigners residing in Finland. To be found at: www.fi/erill/instmigr/ eng/e_tilast. As late as the early 1980s the direction of migration turned and Finland recorded higher immigration than emigration figures (see Fig.utu. In the 1960s and 1970s it was common to emigrate to Sweden for work. 12-13. The residents for social housing have to be selected on social grounds from among persons with low incomes and in urgent need of housing. mostly of Finnish citizens. for example. and the majority of immigrants in Finland live in rental apartments (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000.htm) Being a country of emigration for several decades in the 1990s means that immigration is a fairly recent phenomenon for Finland.) Figure 1. Korkiasaari 1998. 34-35. immigrants have equal rights with Finnish people to apply for municipal housing. 8 . figure: Jouni Korkiasaari.

Institute of Migration. the biggest groups immigrated from Somalia. the former Yugoslavia. It has no colonial history and. thus. there has been no institutionalised labour migration (guest workers) and cheap foreign labour or considerable retirement migration in Finland. Nearly all the immigrants from Somalia and the former Yugoslavia are refugees.g. To be found at:www. Finns started to move to parts of Russia (known as Ingria) mainly in the 15th century. 2). In addition. (Statistics Finland 2001.) Some 16 000 citizens of EU countries live in Finland (Sorainen 2001). when the area became part of Sweden. Turkey and Sweden. The 9 . Figure: Jouni Korkiasaari. New waves of migrants have in many countries included a growing proportion of women. In the early 1930s the circumstances of the Ingrian Finns altered as a result of the emergence of the Soviet Union and Stalin’s rise to power. the volume of return migration by Ingrian Finns and their families has been relatively big. and this is also the case in Finland (see e. there has been no migration from former colonies as in many other European countries. 30-35. The Foreign Population in Finland 1980-2000. Ingrian Finns are persons of Finnish descent living in the former Soviet Union.htm) Ingrian Finns and their families from Russia. the number of immigrants started to increase notably in the beginning of the 1990s (see Fig.fi/erill/instmigr/ eng/e_tilast. 14). (Source: The Population Register Centre. Otherwise Finland has different migratory streams from many other EU countries. However. Doherty & Meert 2001. By contrast. Edgar. Many of these people are Ingrian Finns (see 5.utu. After these countries. In the 1990s the majority of immigrants came from Russia. Estonia and other parts of the former Soviet Union hold ‘returnee’ status in Finland. 3). The migration of domestic workers has also been very slight by international standards. Figure 2. Estonia and other parts of the former Soviet Union (see Fig.4).has received far more immigrants and refugees and over a longer period of time than Finland.

Immigration authorities make thorough investigations before granting residence permits or asylums and the interpretation of laws is often tight.) The reception of Ingrians started in 1990 as a consequence of a proposal made by the President of Finland. Many Ingrian remigrants moved to Finland as returning emigrants. Finnish or Estonian as their mother tongue. Russians and Somalis) causing chain migration.) 3 10 . and some have been granted Finnish citizenship. There are slight differences from one region to another in the reception and care of asylum seekers. estimated 23 000 Ingrians or other persons of Finnish descent had registered on the return migration waiting list in Russia and Estonia. There are no large immigrant communities (apart from e. the Ingrian Finns had a chance to revive their national identity. Altogether Finland has received approximately 25 000 Ingrian Finns3. The main obstacle to families’ moving back is that they cannot find accommodation in Finland (Sorainen 2001. However. Some statistics are based on citizenship. Ingrian Finns have a right to move to Finland and to the municipality of their choice.) In 2002. 90. mother tongue or residence permit status. Most Ingrians speak Russian. Finland is not well known in most countries where refugees come from. Characteristic features of Finland’s refugee reception are the relatively small number of refugees and centralised governance of refugee reception even though several authorities are involved. The lack of information is mainly due to the fact that the relevant legal and statistical system was developed a couple of years after the Ingrian remigration had started. (Pitkänen 1997. Russian. 3. but they usually have to wait several year before they Finnish roots are investigated and they receive permission to come. after which the Ingrian Finns were scattered throughout the Soviet Union. 43-44. 10-11). not as Ingrian remigrants. In addition. According to the Ministry of Labour there were about 540 families in August 2002. that were waiting for a dwelling in Finland. difficult language and absence of former colonies as was mentioned earlier. After the social change in the former Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s. After living in Finland for five years. For decades they were forced to remain silent about their origins. (The Ministry of Labour 1998b. and stronger contacts with Finland were established. Possible reasons for the small number of asylum seekers. There are no exact statistics on how many immigrants from the former Soviet Union are returning Ingrians and how many have emigrated for other reasons. strict immigration and refugee policy. Ingrians have different citizenships: former Soviet Union. imprisonment. the Treaty of Schengen and other international treaties and conventions on the reception of immigrants and refugees. expulsion and population transfers. 10-14. Ingrians can gain Finnish citizenship like other foreigners. long asylum and family reunification procedures. Estonian. and it was also felt that Finland should help Ingrians for humanitarian reasons and make up for their suffering during World War II and expulsions.2 Finnish refugee policy Finland adheres carefully to EU policies.g. The figures for the number of Ingrian Finns in Finland differ. since 1994 the statistics are reliable. There was a shortage of labour in Finland.Ingrians suffered from ethnic cleansing. refugees and immigrants are Finland’s isolated location. (Takalo & Juote 1995. In those days it was not possible to speak Finnish or maintain contacts with Finland.

accounting for only 0. (The Directorate of Immigration 2001. (The Ministry of Labour 2002a. On the other hand. over 2 200 asylum decisions were made.) (For more detailed information. whereas people admitted to Finland as quota refugees are considered to be resident in Finland from the date of entry.4 per cent of the total population. when there were about 1 500 new refugees. the Y-Foundation). Refugees received by Finland. Only about one per cent of the applicants are actually granted asylum. In 2001. This practice has been severely criticised. and only four persons got asylum. This number includes all the refugees received by Finland in 1973-2001: also refugees who have been granted Finnish citizenship and refugees who might since have left Finland. quota refugees. 57 per cent of the decisions were negative and 43 per cent were positive. 4 11 .About one third of the persons seeking asylum are allowed to stay in Finland and they are usually granted a residence permit. (Source: the Ministry of Labour. figure: Kati Utriainen. REFUGEES RECEIVED BY FINLAND 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Figure 3. Asylum seekers are not considered to be residents of Finland until their asylum applications have been processed. This number includes those who were granted a residence permit or asylum. over 800 persons got a residence permit. and immigrants entering Finland via the family reunification programme. During the 1970s Finland received very few refugees. The Institute of Migration 2002. see Appendix 1). Applicants awaiting a decision are not included in this figure. The number of asylum seekers increased considerably during the 1990s (see the Fig. Between 1973 and 2001 Finland received a total of some 21 200 refugees4. In the early 1990s there were about 21 000 foreigners in Finland. The numbers were still low in the 1980s.).) Every year about 2 000-3 000 people enter the country via family reunification or other family reasons.

This is one important pull factor for many Russians to come to Finland. 5 12 . students. 3. For more information on numbers of foreigners in Finland. asylum seekers receive their decisions within 2-3 weeks.fi.) Several NGOs have expressed their concern about the individual treatment of applications in the accelerated procedure (The Refugee Advice Centre 2000.fi. 3) (The Directorate of Immigration 2002). quota refugees. 19). the Czech Republic and Romania in 1999 and 2000. The numbers of foreigners residing in Finland are much bigger if taken to include all persons speaking a foreign language or persons born abroad. The Ministry of Labour 2002a. see the following websites: Institute of Migration: www. Streng 2002 47-48).) In 2001. The majority of these are Swedish citizens or Ingrian/Russian Finns.The current number of foreigners residing permanently in Finland stands at around 100 000. There are about 25 000 Ingrian Finns. the Directorate of Immigration: www. Refugees: refugees who have been granted a residence permit or an asylum. Under this processing. legislation was passed on the accelerated processing of asylum applications.2 million. 3. Statistics Finland 2002. They usually come for a specific time only. people from Russia formed the largest single nationality group. The difference in the standard of living between neighbouring countries is said to be the biggest in the world between Finland and Russia. this is about 1. 13.9 per cent of the total population of 5. 6 It should be noted that both Russians and Estonians include Ingrian returnees of Finnish descent.) In reality.3 Immigrant groups The 100 000 foreigners residing permanently in Finland fall into several different groups according to their reasons for entering the country. family members and others.5 As a result of Roma asylum seekers entering Finland from Poland. depending on the source and the method of calculating. Nearly all the Roma people have been returned under the accelerated asylum procedure since their applications have been regarded as clearly unfounded.fi/erill/instmigr/fin.utu. refugees’ family members who enter the country through a family reunification programme. People of Finnish origin. (Sorainen 2001. followed by Estonians6 and Swedes (see Fig. They can be divided into four groups that partly overlap: 1. (Korkiasaari & Söderling 1998. Statistics Finland: www. Russian is the most common foreign language spoken in Helsinki (Swedish is Finland’s second official language) (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. 2. The number of labour migrants in Finland is small. Marriage was one of the principal reasons for coming to Finland. Labour migrants. the number of persons with a foreign background residing permanently in Finland is much higher than 100 000. There were about 98 600 foreigners in Finland at the end of 2001.stat. There are altogether about 21 200 refugees. however.uvi. 4. (The Directorate of Immigration 2001. Spouses of Finnish citizens.

Africans and refugees in Finland. The biggest groups granted Finnish citizenship are Russians and Somalis. a total of about 20 000 immigrants were granted Finnish citizenship. due mainly to the fall-off in the number of Ingrian Finns (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000.The next national groups in size come from the countries from which Finland has received refugees.) The number of second-generation immigrants is growing in Finland but is still relatively small by international standards. 12).) Somalis represent the biggest group of Muslims. whereas the majority of former Soviet citizens. Filipinos and Thais are women who have come to Finland for purposes of marriage. (Statistics Finland 2001. In recent years the number of asylum seekers has also dropped. 16). Statistics Finland 2001. People who have been granted citizenship do not usually show up in the statistics on foreigners in Finland. The total foreign population in Finland is divided fairly evenly between men and women. The past few years have differed from many previous years in that more than half the asylum seekers have come from countries in Eastern Europe. Somalis had to assume the role of “icebreakers” in the Finnish reception system for asylum seekers and in the public discourse on refugees. Once they have received Finnish citizenship. though there are slightly more men. The number of refugees who have returned to their home country is marginal (under 300 in all) (The Ministry of Labour 2002a). Recently the number of foreigners arriving in Finland has decreased. 18.) The slower rate of increase of foreign residents in Finland is also due to the high numbers of persons who have gained Finnish citizenship.) 13 . 21. The large immigrant groups arriving in Finland in the early 1990s are now becoming eligible for citizenship after spending the required five years in Finland. this has not made their situation any easier but more visible in Finland. 126-147. (Sorainen 2001. Iran and the former Soviet Union (Statistics Finland 2002). Through the official family reunification programme and chain migration based on existing social networks. The numbers of asylum seekers have fallen considerably since the accelerated processing of asylum applications and stricter scrutiny of asylum applicants entering from Russia and Estonia. 20. (Alitolppa-Niitamo 2001. The next biggest refugee groups come from the former Yugoslavia. The majority of Africans and Southern Europeans are men. Between 1996 and 2000. Somalis form the fourth largest national group of about 6 000 persons and constitute the largest refugee community in Finland (Statistics Finland 2002). Iraq. many of them being Roma people (Sorainen 2001. Applicants have to wait a long time for decisions. 28. (Sorainen 2001. immigrants have exactly the same rights and obligations as Finns. Most second-generation immigrants are still young but naturally there will be more of them in the near future. The proportions of men and women vary ethnically. the number of new arrivals from Somalia increased towards the end of the 1990s.

Families are often large and they need social services for integration and economic reasons. They have integrated well in the labour markets and their family and housing conditions are similar to those of their Finnish peers. 17-18.) The third group is made up of immigrants from African and Asian countries. Institute of Migration. (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. They have managed to find employment rather well.) 3. These people have usually immigrated to Finland due to work or family ties. The smallest consists of Europeans and other nationalities. Russia and Estonia and many of them are Ingrian Finns or their family members.Among the foreign residents there are three fairly homogeneous main groups.) The Finnish borders are monitored by the border guard detachment and the authorities have accurate statistics on the number of immigrants and asylum seekers. mainly from Western countries. The employment situation is difficult for them. This group has the advantage of cultural competence and often language skills. Dec 31. and they have become integrated into working life very slowly. Over the past few years only a few attempts at illegal entry have been reported at the Port of Helsinki. but they have also needed social welfare services. (Sorainen 2001. 2002. The eastern border between Finland and Russia The Major groups of Foreign Citizens in Finland. Figure: Jouni Korkiasaari. (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. Finland has followed European refugee policy and the Treaty of Schengen by setting up efficient border control. In the second group are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. compared with Western and 14 . 5-10. 5-10. Even though the number of illegal migrants trying to reach Finland has multiplied.4 Few illegal immigrants Finland is not among the top targets for illegal immigration and through passage but Finland is a gateway to other Schengen and EU states. The proportion of political asylum seekers and refugees is high among this group. 2001 Citizenship Russia Persons Sweden Iraq Germany Former Soviet Union United States Yugoslavia Vietnam Thailand France Italy Afganistan Netherlands 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 11000 12000 13000 14000 15000 16000 17000 18000 19000 20000 21000 22000 23000 0 Male Female Total number of Foreign Citizens 98 577 Source: Statistics Finland. has traditionally been under careful surveillance. Their cultural background differs greatly from that of the Finns.

equality and freedom of choice of immigrants through measures which help them to acquire the essential knowledge and skills they need to function in society. According to Sorainen (2002). 18). Most of these clandestine workers are only temporary and seasonal.1 Finnish legislation The Aliens Act The Aliens Act came into force in 1991. most illegal immigrants are people whose residence permit. Most employers do not employ illegal immigrants and hence there are no large-scale labour markets for clandestine immigrants. especially in view of the more rapid processing of asylum applications. 15 . than in winter. and to ensure the essential livelihood and welfare of asylum seekers by arranging their reception.Central Europe the volume is still small. It is applied in emigration. There are no separate services for homeless illegal immigrants. the prevention of misuse of the asylum application procedure and effective implementation measures and reinforcing the position of Parliament in monitoring immigration policy (The Directorate of Immigration 2001). homelessness among illegal immigrants is likely to be very marginal in Finland because most illegal immigrants usually have their own contacts and business before entering the country. it should be possible to create an Act that takes into account the legal protection of foreigners. According to the Ministry of the Interior. 4. Integration measures are available to persons who have moved to Finland and have a home municipality in Finland. Even so..5). there are about 10 000 illegal immigrants in Finland (Sorainen 2002. It is estimated that there are more illegal workers in summer.2 Act on Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers The Act on the Integration and Reception of Asylum Seekers (1999) has now been in force for over three years. The Act specifies the conditions for granting residence and work permits. asylum and citizenship. There are some illegal immigrants from the eastern neighbour countries working in Finland as prostitutes. 4 4. According to the Act. According to the Frontier Guard. personal integration plans are made for immigrants (see 5. schools and so on. It has been amended several times and a comprehensive reform is currently being prepared. etc. staying and working in Finland. There has not been much research about illegal immigrants residing in Finland but some degree of illegal immigrant labour is known to exist in Finland (Sorainen 2001. visa or visa-exempt period of residence has expired. 1718). Its objective is to promote the integration. Without a residence permit and a home municipality immigrants do not have any access to social and health services. picking fruit. The amount of human trafficking is estimated to be very small.

In 1995 and 1996 an additional quota for 500 refugees from the former Yugoslavia was approved. (Cabinet 2002. In 2001.) The Government immigration and refugee policy (1997) suggests that the formation of ethnic groups should be taken into consideration in placing residents in municipal dwellings while at the same time ensuring a total population with a heterogeneous social and ethnic background.) Finland is one of only some ten countries in the world that receive quota refugees. As of 1989. The quotas are approved annually in conjunction with the national budget. Most of the quota refugees arriving in Finland in recent years have been Kurds from Iran and Iraq and people from the former Yugoslavia. but also due to their need for protection. Quota refugees are chosen from persons granted refugee status by the UNHCR (the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). it states. Instead of being granted asylum.4. The economic and social benefits of persons with residence permits are in practice the same as for those granted asylum. however. the quota was 500 for several years (see Appendix 1). (Action Plan to Combat Ethnic Discrimination and Racism 2001. Afghanistan and also from Sudan in year 2002. Municipalities could. an asylum seeker can obtain a residence permit because of his/her need for protection due to the threat of inhuman treatment or treatment which violates human dignity in his/her home country or for humanitarian reasons.) Most asylum applicants in the 1990s were granted residence permits primarily for pressing humanitarian reasons. It also proposes that housing policies should prevent the concentration of immigrants in certain areas and prevent the labelling of these areas. The preamble to the Act on the Integration of Immigrants does. In 2002. Sorainen 2001.) 4. In its programme for immigration and refugee policy the Government has set as its 16 . On the other hand it also says that the formation of big ethnic groups is also important. (The Directorate of Immigration 2002. 11. 44-45. state that residential areas must be developed in such a way as to prevent regional segregation. Finland’s refugee quota is 750.3 Government programmes Finnish law does not refer to the housing or residential arrangements of immigrants. (The Directorate of Immigration 2002. (The Directorate of Immigration 2002. This recommends that the needs of immigrants be taken into account in housing policies and housing production. A residence permit may also be granted to those who cannot return to their home country because of an armed conflict or an environmental catastrophe.4 Statuses of asylum seekers and refugees Asylum can be granted to a person who meets the definition of a refugee (see Chapter 1). include housing issues in their integration programmes and provide immigrants with guidance about housing. the Government adopted an extensive Action Plan to Combat Ethnic Discrimination and Racism.) The Finnish refugee quotas have been slightly smaller than those of Sweden and Norway but rose steadily in the 1990s.

Nearly half of all residence permits for family members were granted to family members of Russian and Estonian nationals. An Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities has recently been opened at the Ministry.1 Reception and integration of immigrants Administration of immigration affairs Immigrants who have a residence permit have access to the municipal social services and services for homeless people. In addition to the universal services. over 5 200 initial residence permits were granted to family members of foreign residents in Finland. The Aliens Act comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry. Also involved in migration policy are working groups of ministers and an advisory board for ethnic relations made up of representatives of the ministries. (The Ministry of Labour 2002c. local authorities. etc. several special services for refugees and immigrants have been established. The Frontier Guard Service and police control the borders and entry conditions. The services of the Centre are free of charge.) 17 . The Ombudsman safeguards and monitors the position and rights of ethnic minorities and foreigners. just as Finns do. (Sorainen 2001. asylum. labour market organisations. Family members of refugees belong to the reception system of refugees when they arrive in the country (Sorainen 2001. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for foreign affairs and nationality issues.) The Ministry of Labour is responsible for migration affairs. 16-17. NGOs and immigrants. 16-17). The Act on the Reception of Refugees and Integration of Immigrants comes under the Ministry. The Refugee Advice Centre has requested that asylum seekers who are allowed to stay in Finland should always have family reunification rights (Streng 2001. share the main responsibility for immigration policy. (The Ministry of Labour 2002c. 5 5. On the national level two ministries. Somalis and nationals of ex-Yugoslavia being the next largest groups. The Centre lawyers assist asylum seekers during the procedure and help to appeal against negative decisions.goal a gradual increase in the quota to 1 000 (The Government immigration and refugee policy 1997). the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Labour.) Refugees who have been granted a residence permit on grounds of being a refugee are able to apply for family reunification programme of nuclear family members (Aliens Act §18). the reception of asylum seekers and integration of immigrants. 46-48). The Refugee Advice Centre is an NGO working to promote the legal rights of asylum seekers. as does the Directorate of Immigration dealing with residence and work permits. All immigrants can apply for family reunification but they have to be able to provide living for their family members whereas refugees do not have this obligation. refugees and immigrants and offering them legal aid. In 2001.

There are now 15 centres operating in different parts of Finland. Research has shown that the longer the waiting time in a reception centre is. five reception centres for asylum seekers have been closed. such as former hospitals or dormitories. the State and the Finnish Red Cross. asylum seekers sometimes feel relieved and peaceful in the countryside. Each centre has a capacity for 100-150 persons and about 15 professional workers. They have about 170 government employment offices and other municipal authorities and social workers (The Ministry of Labour 2002c). interpreter services. i. 81-99). (The Ministry of Labour 1998a. 13. However.2 Reception centres for asylum seekers Asylum seekers are placed in reception centres.) They provide temporary accommodation. Asylum seekers are also given basic information about Finnish society and life in Finland. 8-9.1). 9-11. 18 . The location of some in small municipalities has been criticised as being isolated. such as the Refugee Advice Centre offering legal aid for asylum seekers. or refused. until a residence permit is either granted on the basis of refugee status or other grounds. The average waiting time in the centres is one year but may well be much longer. 5. (The Ministry of Labour 1998a. Parhankangas 2000. the supervision of reception units. 51). These are in Helsinki and increasingly in some other cities (see chapter 8). Due to the drop in asylum seekers between 1996 and 2001. (Sorainen 2001. the more negative are refugees’ experiences of the reception (Virtanen 1993.e. All cities have a municipal Unit for Immigrant Services that provides information on the rights and duties of immigrants and helps in housing matters as well (see 8.At regional level there are 15 Employment and Economic Development Centres responsible for advising municipalities on immigration and refugee issues. 9. after spending a long time waiting in a reception centre. Special services are provided by NGOs. many would like to move into a city. work and leisure activities (Cabinet 2002.) Asylum seekers are free to come and go in the reception centres. the development of labour services and the promotion of employment. (The Ministry of Labour 2002c. urgent medical care. the Crisis Prevention Centre for Foreigners (SOS Centre) and the Centre for Survivors of Torture. On the other hand. Indigenous asylum seekers in need of support are eligible for a living allowance and they do their shopping and cooking themselves with the money they get.) They are run by municipalities.) At local level the municipalities carry general responsibility for the integration of immigrants. Their children of school age go to the normal comprehensive school. Most reception centres operate on public premises. where they remain until their asylum applications have been handled. (Parhankangas 2000. teaching.) The reception centres are scattered all over the country.

The dispersal policy has also been criticised for not supporting the creation of cultural communities among refugees. According to Merja Rastas (2002. Consequently they receive more support than other immigrant groups. and for failing to take into account the resources that exist within the refugees’ own social networks (Wahlbeck 1996). (Act on the Integration of Immigrants 1991 and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1999. Refugees classify as a special group in need of support because they may have spent long periods in refugee camps. If they decide to take refugees. 12). They then get financial compensation from the Government for the costs incurred. 5. leisure and other necessary services. such as ethnic groups. If immigrants. refugees and Ingrian Finns have concentrated in Southern Finland and especially in the metropolitan region. This may in turn even cause homelessness (see 11. social and health services. they would have better chances of staying there (Kokko 2002.) Refugees have been placed in over 130 municipalities around Finland. Many asylum seekers move to the metropolitan region or other cities where they have relatives. according to which refugees were resettled in small groups all over the country.3 The reception system for refugees and immigrants Persons who have received a permanent residence permit are entitled to the same welfare state services as the Finns (Valtonen 1999). over 80 per cent of them in urban municipalities (Qvist 2002). the legislation sets uniform norms and standards for the reception and care of asylum seekers throughout the country (Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1991. and any family the refugee may already have in Finland (Sorainen 2001. A dispersal reception policy. They are responsible for providing housing. Despite the dispersal policy. they make an agreement with their regional Employment and Economic Development Centre. and may therefore have psychological problems. were placed in the same municipalities. The immigration movement to the Helsinki region and other cities may reflect the fact that refugees and Ingrians find it difficult to integrate in small towns and rural municipalities. interpreters.2). Municipalities receive refugees voluntarily.If asylum seekers have relatives or friends in Finland. Placing small groups of refugees around the country is often found to increase the movement of refugees inside the country. suffered from armed conflicts and torture in their home countries. Aliens Act 1999). A number of factors are taken into account when placing refugees. 37). and especially immigrants from the same ethnic group. was established in Finland in the late 1980s. placing refugees in small or isolated municipalities has made their integration difficult in some cases. they can live with them at home in private accommodation instead of staying in a reception centre. At national level. the availability of interpreter and other services. 19 . 89).

Most of the recent Ingrian returnees. (Sorainen 2001. the integration of Ingrians and Russians is eased by the fact 20 . 10.5. Measures have been taken to provide guidance for returnees in the form of information and advisory services. The Ingrian Finns have basically the same access to social security and social services as the Finns (Takalo & Juote 1995. Russian is very different from Finnish. (Monitori 3/2002. Municipalities are compensated for the costs of receiving Ingrians for the first six months and certain expenses for much longer. The law will be changed so that there will be language tests before a residence permit is issued. 5) but this has not been fully achieved. the processes of integration and employment have been easier for Ingrians than for many refugees because some of the Ingrians already speak good Finnish when they arrive and the cultural differences are not as big for them as they are for most refugees from distant countries. Ingrians who come to Finland in the future must have basic language skills and they will be tested in their home countries. As of 1996. For this reason.) The Finns’ attitude to immigrant Ingrian Finns has been more positive than to many other groups of immigrants (Jaakkola 1995). According to the professionals working with immigrants and homeless persons. Being able to speak the language before coming to Finland or learning it rather easily has made the integration and employment of many Ingrians and Estonians easier. The aim of the reception policy of Ingrians has been to direct returning Ingrians evenly to different parts of Finland (Reiman 1999. but nowadays Ingrians are responsible for organising housing for themselves. (Sorainen 2001. s/he has the right to move to Finland even if s/he has not found work. Estonian is closely related to Finnish and Finnish is spoken in certain parts of Estonia.4 Reception of Ingrian Finns When an Ingrian returnee has been granted a residence permit based on Finnish descent. In general. but because of the economic recession. most of the Ingrian Finns were employed. do not speak Finnish. 10. Estonia and the former Soviet Union varies considerably. Residence permits are not stamped on passports until receiving municipalities in Finland have been contacted about housing arrangements. and especially the younger ones. 54-55. 90).) At the beginning of the 1990s. During the 1990s municipalities provided Ingrian Finns with dwellings. By contrast. 90).) Most move to municipal dwellings after temporary housing. applicants must attend a re-entry orientation course providing tuition in Finnish and elementary knowledge of Finnish society before they can be issued with a residence permit. The situation of immigrants from Russia. many returnees later faced unemployment (Takalo & Juote 1995.) According to the Ministry of Labour. (Rastas 2002. most Ingrians travel to Finland to arrange housing by themselves or with the help of relatives and friends because it may take years before they would get a municipal dwelling. Research shows that nearly all single Ingrians coming to Helsinki live first in a dormitory or boarding house and are homeless. Often this means that they first live with friends or relatives.

especially for some of the young Ingrians and Russians. (Qvist & Rastas 2002. (Cabinet 2002. 38-39. depending on the municipality. In the metropolitan region and other cities attention is also paid to housing guidance. According to the results. municipalities need more resources for more efficient integration measures.) Integration refers to the process during which the immigrant finds his place in his new country of residence. However. resources and co-operation in immigrant integration. the lack of resources for training and language courses and the unwillingness of Finnish employers to employ immigrants. Immigrants are eligible for different kinds of integration measures depending on their personal and economical situation.) In 2000.) Integration is not only the duty of immigrants. measures. a local authority and an unemployment office on measures to support immigrants and their families in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed in society and working life.that they do not stand out because they look “different” in the way many refugees do (Mäenpää 1992. hiring of immigrant housing counsellors and greater communication between immigrants and housing companies. 20-22. (Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1999. Hyttinen & Tikkanen 1997. (Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1999. a total of 11 600 integration plans were drawn up for immigrants (Sorainen 2001). Successful integration leads to a situation where the immigrant is capable of living independently. 119.) 7 21 . 90-92). and there have been cases of substance abuse and related criminality. Immigrants were also interviewed about their experiences of integration plans. integration has been difficult.) Refugees and immigrants who are in a need of social assistance and who register as unemployed job seekers or who do not belong to the labour force are entitled to an integration plan and integration allowance for three years. It also appeared that more language courses are required. The Ministry of Labour conducted a survey to find out municipalities’ experiences of the implementation of integration plans. They should also have a chance to be in contact with Finns and Finnish society and to participate in the economic. housing information in various languages. and they need to be improved. The programme should include a plan for targets. Lately there has been wide public discussion and criticism about the inefficiency of the integration procedure. According to the Integration Act. written and spoken Finnish to help them find employment. Many of them did not consider the integration plans useful and some were not aware of the aims. 62). (The Ministry of Labour 1998b. municipalities are required to draw up an integration programme together with the labour and other authorities. functioning actively in society and maintaining his own cultural identity. (Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers 1999. 5. The plan may consist of employment and training issues and language courses.5 Integration policies During the integration process7 immigrants should acquire a basic knowledge of Finnish society. political and social life of the community. The integration plan is an agreement between an immigrant.

According to the Ministry of Labour, the Integration Act functions well and is necessary but the implementation needs improving. The Act is considered to have enhanced the status of immigrants but the lack of resources seems to have affected the implementation of the Act. The biggest problem in the training of immigrants is that the training is insufficient. (The Ministry of Labour 2002d, press release 20.5.2002.) According to the professionals working with immigrants, the further away the clients come from, the more difficult it often is for them to integrate. Refugees usually come from distant countries and they have had difficult experiences in the past. This hinders integration. Groups that have been in Finland for a long time usually need less help than newcomers. Most immigrants in Finland are still firstgeneration ones; consequently integration is more difficult and the integration processes are still going on. 5.6 Employment and unemployment of immigrants

Although labour immigration seems to be on the rise, only a small proportion comes through the work permit system and foreigners represent only about one per cent of the Finnish labour force. (Statistics Finland 2001, 23). In all, 21 000 work permits8 were granted in 2001, most of the initial ones for temporary work. The majority of the applicants came from neighbouring areas, above all Russia and Estonia. (Sorainen 2001, 15-16.) Unemployment began to rise sharply in Finland in the 1990s and the unemployment rate is currently nearly 11 per cent. There are, however, considerable regional differences. The unemployment rate varies from about seven per cent in the metropolitan region and Southern Finland up to 17-19 per cent in Northern Finland and Lapland. (The Ministry of Labour 2002e.) The rate of unemployment has been much higher among immigrants than among the population as a whole. At the end of 2001, the unemployment rate for foreigners was approximately 34 per cent. The unemployment rate of some refugee groups is as high as 60 per cent. Itemised by nationality, the unemployment rate is highest in the groups that have entered Finland mainly on humanitarian grounds. (Sorainen 2001, 23; Statistics Finland 2001, 23-24.) Unemployment is considered the biggest obstacle to integration (Valtonen 1999). The increase in the number of immigrants and refugees coincided with the economic recession and mass unemployment, making it hard for immigrants to integrate and find jobs (Virtanen 2002, 19, Cabinet 2002, 5). Asylum seekers are allowed to work after three months’ residence in Finland but it is hard for them to find employment. Many refugees have suffered armed conflicts, torture and long waits in refugee camps, which may prolong their integration and rehabilitation. About 10 per cent of adult refugees are illiterate, which makes their integration and
8

Several groups are exempt from work permit procedures. Examples are foreigners with permanent residence permits, refugees and people who have been granted residence permits due to a need for protection, and asylum seekers who have been in Finland for at least three months. (Sorainen 2001, 2.)

22

employment more difficult. Consequently, the unemployment rate is higher among refugees than other immigrants. (Cabinet 2002, 27.) Another reason for unemployment of immigrants is the large proportion of students. In many cultures women look after children and do domestic work but they do not belong to the official labour force. (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000, 34.) In recent years the employment situation of immigrants has, however, improved along with the general employment situation in Finland. In reality, the unemployment rate for immigrants is lower than the statistics show because the statistics do not usually include immigrants who have been granted Finnish citizenship, who have been in the country for some time and whose employment situation is thus often much better than that of other immigrants (Statistics Finland 2001, 23-24, 29). There have been many positive trends in the past few years. Many immigrants have found jobs or have started up in business. Some employers actively recruit immigrants, and the trade unions have launched projects to promote multiculturalism. (Lepola 2002.) The employment situation of immigrants has been improved by helping them to develop skills needed in working life. Unless they can speak Finnish or Swedish (Finland is a bilingual country), it is almost impossible to find a job. Immigrants have also been encouraged to take occupational training in sectors suffering from a shortage of labour. (Sorainen 2002, 23-24; Forsander & Alitolppa-Niitamo 2000.) There has been a marked rise in the average age of the Finnish population. This has led to wide public debate on the growing demand for labour, the need to import labour and ethnic discrimination in the labour market. 6 6.1 Residential arrangements for immigrants Municipalities provide refugees’ first home

Provision of a first home for refugees and their families is part of the reception system. Once they have been granted a residence permit, refugees are assigned a permanent dwelling via the municipal authorities. (Parhankangas 2000.) The quota refugees are assigned to local authorities direct on arrival in the country and housed either in municipal social housing or in a dwelling purchased jointly by municipal authorities and the Y-Foundation with special state loans for the purchase of refugee housing. Persons coming to Finland to work or study or for family or other reasons have to organise their housing themselves. Relatives, friends or employers may help them with finding accommodation. (Cabinet 2002, 45.)

23

700 600 500
DWELLINGS

DWELLINGS PROVIDED BY MUNICIPALITIES FOR REFUGEES 1997-2001

1

State-sub. Housing Acqvisition loan Other

400 300 200 100 0 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

The figure 4. Source: Virpi Tiitinen 2001, Housing Fund of Finland Around 90 per cent of refugees live in state-subsidised housing owned by municipalities or foundations (Tiitinen 2001). Between 1994 and 2000, municipalities housed nearly 13 500 refugees in over 4600 dwellings (see the Fig. 4). Nearly a thousand dwellings were supplied by NGOs. (Housing Fund of Finland 2001, 2.) Sometimes asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit have to wait for a long time at the reception centre before municipal housing can be found for them. In general the cities and municipalities that have received a lot of refugees and Ingrian Finns have difficulty providing dwellings, whereas the housing situation is usually better in medium-sized municipalities. (Tiitinen 2002.) The situation in small municipalities is often good and there may be vacant apartments (Tiitinen & Ikonen 2001).

6.2

Housing conditions of immigrants

The housing conditions of immigrants are relatively good in Finland. Municipalities provide the first dwelling for refugees, and other immigrants usually live in municipal rental housing as well. These dwellings are of a good standard and the new ones are of a high standard. The proportion of immigrants living in government-financed dwellings and in rental housing in general is considerably higher than the proportion of Finns. The 24

) According to the report on the integration of Ingrians. crowding.) 25 . It was. Reasons for dissatisfaction among the remaining 30 per cent were disturbing neighbours. about 70 per cent of the refugees interviewed were satisfied with their living conditions. and the poor condition or isolated location of the dwelling. Having to live in a small temporary dwelling had been hard for the Ingrians arriving in Finland. over 50 immigrants. though refugees (such as Vietnamese families) who arrived in Finland years ago have purchased dwellings. Reiman 1999). (The Ministry of Labour 1998b.economic situation of refugees and other immigrants is usually poor in the beginning and they cannot afford to rent or purchase housing on the private market.) In 2000. obvious that much more guidance was needed on a variety of issues. (Ekholm 1994.g. If Ingrians were located out of the growth centres. 14. were interviewed about their housing situation. (Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001. 19). Some thousand immigrants a year apply for a municipal dwelling in Helsinki. 29-31). There were major differences in the supply of general housing guidance and housing information in their own language. The biggest groups are refugees and Ingrians. The elderly Ingrian people living in a special home for retired people were better integrated and more satisfied than those living in temporary housing. Despite this. The foreigners living in their own dwellings have usually come to Finland for other reasons and are not refugees.) Immigrants have bigger families than the Finns on average and they tend to live with a family (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. The percentage of foreign applicants has been about 11-12.) Several studies have proved that the integration process does not begin until immigrants have a permanent home (see e. 90-92. At the end of 1998. most of them living in municipal dwellings. the housing situation of Ingrians is difficult in the metropolitan region but not usually a problem in the small municipalities. In Helsinki Ingrians had to wait 1½-2 years in temporary housing on average before getting a municipal dwelling. Mäenpää 1992. (Hyttinen & Tikkanen 1997. about 75 per cent of the immigrants who had come to Finland between 1991 and 1998 were living in rental housing (Statistics Finland 1998). (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2001. however. the living conditions of refugees were clearly more crowded than those of Finns (Ekholm 1994. According to research in the early 1990s. since some interviewees did not receive either but some did. Research on Ingrians shows that they saw temporary accommodation as the biggest obstacle to integration. their housing situation would be better. It seems that nationality has not affected applicants’ chances of getting a dwelling since some 9-10 per cent of foreigners applying have been granted a dwelling.

there are several reasons for the secondary migration of refugees inside Finland and the concentration of immigrants in the metropolitan region. (Kortteinen & Vaattovaara 2000.) According to the research. One reason for the concentration of homelessness among immigrants in Helsinki is said to be the practice of the Register Office of the City of Helsinki to register as resident in Helsinki persons who do not have a dwelling in the city (Rastas 2002).) The policy of the Unit for Immigrant Services in Helsinki aims at reducing the number of refugees and Ingrian Finns moving to the metropolitan region. About half of all the immigrants live in the metropolitan region and one third of them in Helsinki. The aim of the dispersal reception policy (see 5. However. The conditions for allowing asylum seekers to move from reception centres into private housing of their acquaintances have also been made stricter in order to stop people living with relatives from staying in Helsinki.6. 107-123.5) of some cities and municipalities mention that dwellings for immigrants should be evenly distributed over the city. 11-16. this may be difficult because municipal housing is not evenly spread.3) has been to place refugees around the country and to integrate them into municipalities. Kokko 2002. Other reasons are a desire to be close to relatives and friends in the cities and the attitudes of local people in the immigrants’ first municipality. and dwellings may become vacant in areas where there are already a lot of immigrants. The Helsinki region hosts more immigrants than any other region in Finland and it also has the biggest homelessness problem. The integration programmes (see 5. this has not happened in practice: refugees and other immigrants have concentrated in the five biggest cities in Southern Finland.) Experience or fear of harassment can also cause a concentration of ethnic minority families in relatively few neighbourhoods. (Vaattovaara 2002.3 Concentration of immigrants in the metropolitan region and other cities Compared with other countries. Recent studies suggest that the socio-economic differences between housing areas have been slowly increasing in Helsinki even though the policy of social mixing has been observed for decades and has produced exceptionally homogeneous city structures. however.) Immigrants’ dwellings are usually owned by municipal or non-profit organisations. About six per cent of the population living in Helsinki have a foreign background. 10. Nor are there any areas with a high concentration of one national or ethnic group. In recent years the increase in the foreign population of Helsinki has been around 510 per cent per year. Finland has no segregated housing areas or ghettoes. At the moment no more refugees are being placed in the municipality of Helsinki. but some areas do have a higher concentration of immigrants than others. work and educational opportunities. Helsinki has received about a quarter of all the refugees in Finland. 115-124. (Rastas 2002. (Reiman 1999. The Register Office in Helsinki has been criticised by professionals working with 26 . (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. In practice. ethnic minorities have begun to concentrate on almost the same residential suburbs of Helsinki as those inhabited by socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Immigrants find the metropolitan region appealing because of its ethnic communities.) According to the research.

crowded dwelling. (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. The interviewees did not enjoy living in the first municipality and they wanted to move to a bigger town. Some of the interviewees wanted to live in areas where there are not many immigrants. The Ministry of Labour 1998b. Most immigrants lived in the suburbs of Turku with a high concentration of immigrants. the warmer climate of Southern Finland compared to the north. Links with authorities and social networks break. 26-27). 31-40. Nordisk Ministerråd 1996. Immigrants from Western countries are an exception since they tend to live in any part of Helsinki (Kortteinen & Vattovaara 2000).homeless immigrants for letting people move into Helsinki too easily. Reiman 1999. Turku has the biggest concentration of immigrants after the metropolitan region. Training or education already begun in the first municipality will often continue only after queuing in a new municipality. better ethnic services for immigrants and better connections to other countries were also mentioned as reasons for moving to Turku. 10. The majority had had difficulty finding somewhere to live even though friends had helped some of them. In addition. Karoliina Kokko (2002) interviewed 50 immigrants who had moved to Turku from smaller municipalities in other parts of Finland. Many refugee families end up living in a small. Partly because of the difficult housing situation in Helsinki. (Qvist 2002. Altogether about one fourth of all foreigners in Helsinki live in this area. 20. Moving from the first municipality to a bigger town has several effects on the situation of refugee families. Many of them chose Turku because they had friends and relatives there. Many interviewees were hoping to find a job or a place to study in Turku. Group support helps integration. (Rastas 2002. many immigrants have moved to this city in Southwest Finland. and partly because of the many attractions of Turku. Most immigrants had received financial support to cover the costs of moving. studies or social networks in the first municipality that promoted their integration. Ethnic communities. According to Kokko. but most of them specifically wanted to live near other immigrants.) 27 . (Kokko 2002. Children have to change schools and many things have to start again from the beginning. Among the reasons for moving away from the first municipality were lack of contacts and things to do.) Several researchers emphasise that there are also positive aspects of ethnic concentrations in certain areas. and it is easier to organise special services and shops. A large amount of municipal rental housing was built in this area in the 1990s.) Ingrian Finns and refugees have concentrated in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Helsinki. which partly explains the concentration of immigrants. immigrants often want to live in the same housing areas. most immigrants did not have any factors such as work. They propose that it should be regulated by law that the Register Office should check the housing situation of the applicant and should not let people move to Helsinki straight away.

In 2001. information has been sought via municipal authorities. To be found at: www.1 Homelessness among immigrants Homelessness in general in Finland Finland had about 10 000 homeless people in 2001 and the number was the same in previous years9.7 7. The reasons for homelessness in Helsinki are lack of reasonably-priced small dwellings. Even though the majority of homeless persons in Helsinki are still single men with substance abuse problems. one in ten was a young person under 25 years of age and one in twenty was an immigrant. dormitory or hostel and they are not forced to sleep on the streets. Because the official statistics do not provide data on the homeless. night shelters Source: Housing Fund of Finland. poverty and exclusion. of all the single homeless persons in Helsinki. about one third in shelters or dormitories and the rest outdoors or in some other form of accommodation. Virpi Tiitinen 6. 40).ara. The homelessness of immigrants was included in the survey for the first time in 2001. unemployment.fi Finland has figures on homelessness based on a yearly survey and estimates. (Korhonen 2002.6. 9 28 .2002. but some go around staying in different places. it is practically impossible to sleep outdoors all year round in Finland. 10. there are more homeless young persons. Because of the severe winter. The survey also covers homelessness. about one fifth were women. The Housing Fund of Finland conducts an annual housing market survey directed at the local housing authorities. (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997.) Homeless people in Finland 1987 -2001 20000 18000 16000 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 Homeless families With relatives and acquintances In institutions Outdoors. women and immigrants than before. Most homeless people have a place to stay at in a shelter. Homelessness has started to increase after a long period of decrease. Over half of all the homeless people lived temporally with friends.

Kärkkäinen 2002). Homelessness is often accompanied by substance abuse and mental health problems. Housing is usually found for families with children by housing authorities or social welfare authorities. however. On the overheated housing market in the metropolitan region. while it has decreased in other parts of the country (Tiitinen 2002. 29 . 38. Only a fifth of all applicants for a municipal dwelling usually get a flat in Helsinki (Tiitinen 2002). There are differences in the housing situation from one part of Finland to another.About 80 per cent of all the homeless persons have concentrated in urban regions and over half of them are in the Greater Helsinki area (Tiitinen 200210). too (Rastas 2002). since all are provided with at least temporary accommodation. The temporary accommodation in dormitories is not always satisfactory.) No research has. Even though the social protection and housing allowance prevent the risk of eviction and homelessness. 7. The homeless population has become increasingly heterogeneous (Kärkkäinen 2002). (Kärkkäinen 1996. The heterogeneity of the homeless causes pressures on services and the traditional services with a substance-abuse orientation are no longer sufficient (Kärkkäinen 1996). 10 The report is based on the housing market surveys made by the Housing Fund of Finland. though there are no previous figures for comparison since homelessness among immigrants was first included in a survey on homelessness in 2001. Homelessness has increased in the metropolitan region and in some other growth centres. but immigrants can find better accommodation after spending some time in temporary housing. The reasons for homelessness among immigrants vary greatly. Kärkkäinen 2001. City of Helsinki Urban Facts). There are no immigrants living on the streets or outdoors or begging. human relations problems and a low level of education (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. there may even be vacant social housing. been conducted into the actual housing situation of these families (Kärkkäinen 2002. 13).) The Greater Helsinki area has a shortage of reasonably-priced rental housing and the shortage of small apartments is also most pressing in Helsinki (Tiitinen & Ikonen 2002). there are numerous new applicants in the queue. The homelessness of families with children is usually of short duration as such families take priority in the allocation of social housing. Homelessness is not a problem of single mothers either. Nearly 60 per cent of single homeless persons (close on 5 800 persons) and 90 per cent of homeless families (nearly 700 persons) live in the metropolitan region (Tiitinen & Ikonen 2002). (Tiitinen & Ikonen 2002. whereas in other parts of the country. these phenomena have become a consistent problem in Finland.2 Homeless immigrants Homelessness among immigrants is on the whole considered to be a marginal but growing problem.

The biggest growth has been among immigrants other than refugees and Ingrian Finns because municipal housing is often the only solution for these immigrant groups. Homelessness is more common among immigrants than Finns. Previously most homeless immigrants were Ingrian Finns who had just arrived in the country and were in a state of transition in a new country. Most of the immigrant Russians. most of them in Helsinki. the number of homeless immigrants may be even bigger because many may be staying with relatives or friends. and Somalis entered the country in the 1990s. Many of the homeless families in the metropolitan region are Ingrian returnees and other immigrants waiting for permanent housing in temporary apartments or some other kind of accommodation.) 11 There are no statistics available on immigrant clients using services for homeless people. Merja Rastas estimates that there are approximately 1 000 homeless immigrants in Finland if single persons. 44-45. In 2001. The number is relatively small since it covers the whole country. 29. and some are young people moving out of their parents’ home. The majority of the homeless immigrants live in cities. Now many homeless immigrants have been in the country for a long time and have arrived at homeless by various paths.) Research has shown that while homelessness among immigrants did not continue to increase in the late 1990s. The proportion of immigrants in the various dormitories for homeless men and women in the Helsinki region has risen considerably in the past few years11 (Rastas 2002).) According to some estimates. There were about 130 homeless immigrant families out of 800. Some have moved from other parts of the country.) The authorities are not aware of immigrants living temporarily with relatives or acquaintances until they apply for housing or look for work. (Korhonen 2002. being 14 per cent in 2001. which makes it more difficult to estimate the true number. Ingrian Finns. especially in Helsinki and other cities. About 90 per cent of all the homeless immigrants live in cities. The proportion of immigrant applicants for municipal housing has also increased dramatically in recent years.The number of homeless immigrants has increased during the past decade. 8. there were an estimated 330 homeless single immigrants out of the total of 10 000 homeless persons in Finland. most of them in Helsinki. This is considered to be one reason for the increase in homeless families in the metropolitan region in general. (Rastas 2002. there was a qualitative change. 36-37. (Tiitinen 2002. 23. some have got divorced. families and children of families are included (Rastas 2002). The percentile proportion of immigrants in different social services increased in the 1990s as the number of immigrants in Finland rose. 30 . This is partly due to the restrictions imposed by confidentiality and partly because immigrant clients are a relatively new phenomenon in Finland and there used not to be any need for separate statistics on them. (Vesanen & Tiitinen 1998. About four per cent of all homeless persons in Helsinki are estimated to be immigrants (Tiitinen 2002).

of whom about 200 are immigrants. this phenomenon shows that temporary housing has become more common. These families are Ingrian Finns.) Year 2001 Finland Helsinki * Espoo * Vantaa * Turku Tampere Lahti Oulu Kuopio Joensuu Single homeless people 10 000 4700 580 510 470 580 350 170 160 160 Single homeless immigrants 330 200 (estimate) 40 50 2 No data 10 2 3 3 Homeless families 800 625 35 28 20 5 4 2 Homeless immigrant families 130 100 (estimate) 6 4 No data 2 - * These three cities form the Great Helsinki region (tark. 12 Secondary homelessness describes a housing situation in which a dwelling is shared with other people. However. It includes subtenants. (Tiitinen 2002. but it well describes the housing situation of immigrants living in Helsinki. refugees moving inside Finland and other immigrants on low incomes.) 7.International surveys do not usually count secondary homelessness12 as homelessness.) Numbers of homeless persons and homeless immigrants by municipality in 2001 (Tiitinen 2002. living with parents and sharing an apartment (Rastas 2002. 27). In 2001. (Rastas 2002. about nine per cent of the immigrants in Helsinki did not have a fixed abode. the majority of them in Helsinki. In addition. there were estimated to be about 130 homeless immigrant families. The rise may reflect the growth of homelessness even though not all immigrants with no fixed abode are homeless.3 Statistics of homeless Finns and immigrants in different cities The City of Helsinki is estimated as hosting about 4 700 homeless single persons. many of them are homeless but not roofless. At the end of 2001. Thus. 38-39. Termi!). Most homeless Finnish and immigrant families are in Helsinki. some young immigrants are still living with their parents because they cannot afford to live on their own or because they have not found a dwelling. (Rastas 2002. 27-29. secondary homelessness has increased in Helsinki but it is not possible to say yet whether it has increased especially among immigrants or not.) The number of immigrants with no fixed abode and immigrants who have a poste restante address has grown considerably in Helsinki (City of Helsinki Urban Facts 2000. 14). 31 . Secondary homelessness often means crowded living conditions. According to the statistics. Most of the immigrants with no fixed abode are living with friends and relatives or in a dormitory.

rents dwellings from the Y-Foundation (see below) to immigrants. while others are special services for immigrants. The YFoundation owns over 4 300 dwellings around the country in over 50 municipalities. It offers temporary housing. Some of the following services are for Finns and immigrants alike. some refugees have become homeless at a later stage of their stay in Finland. The Unit offers social services for refugees and Ingrian Finns who move to Helsinki (most other cities have similar units). The housing is funded mainly by loans from the State and credit agencies. of which about 20% (860 dwellings) are for refugees. distribute information to immigrants and co-partners and develop co-operation.1 Municipal Units for Immigrant Services The cities and municipalities have Units for Immigrant Services that may have different ways of working and their clients may be in different situations.1). Workers visit dwellings when there are new residents to discuss the equipment. 8. This report takes the Unit for Immigrant Services of the City of Helsinki as an example. The Foundation chiefly purchases individual apartments in normal housing companies in an attempt to avoid the formation of areas and blocks of houses with a social bias and to avoid branding of the occupants. The Helsinki Unit has about 300 immigrant clients and 50 temporary dwellings. The services for immigrant youth are described later in the chapter 10. the following chapter gives a short account of the service provision for homeless immigrants as a background to the subsequent analysis.Before looking in detail into the situation of homeless immigrants and the reasons for their homelessness. Asylum seekers are first placed in a reception centre. Most of its clients are immigrants who have moved in from other municipalities. 8 Services for the homeless and immigrants Immigrants who come to Finland for reasons other than work usually need various services. grants from the Finnish Slot Machine Association and the local authorities with which the Y-Foundation collaborates. local authorities. and once they have received a residence permit are provided by a municipality with a first dwelling (see 6. solve inter-cultural problems. such as housing. Refugees and Ingrian Finns are Unit clients for 1-3 years.4. 8. The initial reception and housing guidance is part of their work and they give practical advice. helps to find a permanent dwelling and provides general information on life in Finland. 32 . depending on the municipality. It has concentrated on the purchase and management of housing. The Unit has housing guides. environment and other such things with them. church congregations and various local and national organisations. There are services providing housing for homeless persons and some of them help people who are in danger of becoming homeless. However.2 The Y-Foundation The Y-Foundation is the biggest NGO in Finland providing housing for the homeless and refugees. The Foundation works in close operation with the public sector.

pay for their stay in dormitories themselves. many dormitories and hostels in the worst condition have been closed and alternative accommodation for residents has been provided. 33 . some do not. level of education. none of the immigrant groups is so large as to need separate services. who know where the need is greatest. There are relatively more immigrants in one-roomed flats than in shared flats because of the problems of mixing immigrants and Finns in the same clusters. These then select the tenants and provide the support and any other services required. This office places homeless people in rented temporary dwellings and emergency accommodation. These organisations have organised supported housing and other services together with the Y-Foundation and municipalities. from urban or rural areas. 13 Residents who are working or who have retired. the young and people with substance problems or mental health problems.5 per cent from Russia. To raise the standard. Assistance for the people living in Foundation dwellings is provided by other organisations such as The Finnish Association for Mental Health. Most dormitories and other services have single clients from nearly all over the world who may not feel any closer to other immigrants than they do towards Finns. of which seven per cent (about 350 persons) are immigrants. about 2. About one per cent of all homeless clients come from EU countries. The dormitories and shelters for homeless persons in Helsinki vary considerably in standard but the standard has risen since the mid-1980s. there are many differences between ethnic groups (country of origin. shelters and dormitories.13 The office has about 5 000 clients. Most immigrant clients are young men. 8.3 Special social welfare office for homeless persons in Helsinki Helsinki has a special social welfare office (ESTO) responsible for the homeless. as are the Finnish clients.) that make it impossible and unnecessary to provide special homelessness services for certain ethnic groups. religion.4 Dormitories in the metropolitan region According to the personnel working with immigrants. 8. Nowadays the biggest client group of the office consists of Somali families who have been evicted from social housing.The Foundation usually rents its housing to the municipalities and NGOs. Some of them have single rooms. In addition. The special social welfare office has some one-roomed and shared flats. Supported housing aims to offer supportive services to special groups such as handicapped person. previous living experience. Somalis and other Africans constitute a large client group. its own units. The rents are kept at a reasonable level. one per cent from the Baltic countries and the rest from other countries. Most of the homeless persons receive money to pay for the shelter or dormitory and a living allowance from this office. etc.

which makes it harder to help them. This practice has worked out well. the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters and other organisations.6 Special services for immigrants There are special services for immigrants in Helsinki and other cities. Clients can solve their life 34 .6. children’s homes. About 25-30 per cent of the clients have been immigrant women or Finnish women married to an immigrant man. About half the clients of the refuge return home. 2. fights and being afraid.According to the personnel working with immigrants.1. (Pääkaupungin turvakoti ry 2001. It is often more time-consuming to deal with the problems of immigrants and thus more resources are needed to serve them. 8. they may often stay at the temporary women’s refuge for 3-6 months or even longer. 8. support flats and temporary flats for homeless persons in the metropolitan region and other cities run by the Salvation Army. Since finding a dwelling for immigrants is difficult. They offer help for immigrants and their families and promote their integration into society.) The immigrant women at the refuge are from over 30 different countries. Some immigrants have a poor command of Finnish and English and some are illiterate. The problem is that the better-quality dormitories hardly ever have vacancies because people tend to stay there longer.1 The dormitory for Ingrian women The dormitory for Ingrian women in Helsinki is an exception in many ways: it is the only one exclusively for immigrants.1 Crisis Prevention Centres There are two Crisis Prevention Centres in Southern Finland and the Finnish Association for Mental Health runs them.5 Refuge for women in Helsinki The refuge for women in Helsinki serves women suffering from domestic violence or other problems at home. It has a capacity for ten families. They come to the refuge mainly for the same reasons as Finnish women: physical and psychological violence at home. some immigrants manage to adapt well in dormitories while others do not.1. 8.4. These specialise in certain problems but aim among other things at preventing homelessness. The dormitories with single rooms and where drinking is not allowed are usually favoured by immigrants. mother-and-child homes. The remainder need to be found a new home and the personnel of the refuge help to find this. 8. immigrants stay at hostels. The attitude of the personnel towards immigrants is an important factor and varies considerably from one dormitory to another. Social support is offered to them in the form of after care. It provides accommodation for Ingrian women only and the same women have lived there for several years. The Salvation Army runs the dormitory. In addition to the dormitories.

htm). anonymous and free of charge. (Viikkolehti 5. The services are totally confidential. Those who have a Finnish spouse usually get help from their spouse and his/her family in finding a dwelling. It has approximately 1 000 clients a year. Ingrian Finns or refugees. see www. They are therefore afraid of telling the police about crimes against them or other problems they may face.mielenterveysseura. Ingrian Finns and Estonians but there are also clients from other African and Eastern European countries. for more information. information. (For more information. see www.situations and problems with the help of professional workers and interpreters. the biggest problem of foreign prostitutes working in Finland is that they are legally unprotected and can be returned to their home countries if they are caught. of which about 70 per cent are foreign prostitutes.asp).hdl.) No research has been conducted into homelessness among foreign prostitutes. Somalis.fi/apua/ukk. The Centre carries out mental health work among immigrants.2 The Centre for Torture Survivors in Finland The Centre for Torture Survivors in Finland (CTSF) provides treatment and rehabilitation for refugees who have been traumatised in their home countries as a consequence of torture. The association also seeks to reduce and prevent the disadvantages and problems caused by this line of business. The Prostitute Counselling Centre The Prostitute Counselling Centre offers support services to anyone who has been or is involved in selling sexual services. The clients are mainly Russians and Estonians. Similarly immigrants who come to Finland to work get help from their employers and students can usually get special dwellings for students.2002. According to the director of the Centre. but its clinical work is centred in Southern Finland. It operates on a nation-wide basis. especially in Helsinki. safety and co-operation between members.1 Homelessness among immigrant groups Homeless immigrant groups: special features Homelessness is not usually a problem among immigrants who have come to Finland because of marriage or work. The biggest immigrant groups requiring most services for homeless people are Russians. (For more information. The CTSF develops and tests new ways of working and serves as a national centre of expertise for other organisations working in the treatment of torture victims. The purpose of the association is to promote sex-workers’ health. see www. well-being. who are usually indigent on entering the country. Most dormitories and 35 .1.6. counselling and therapeutic discussion. Many of the homeless immigrant families are. etc. 9 9.7.protukipiste. The Centre offers support in all aspects of life. 8. Homelessness among immigrants mainly concerns refugees and Ingrians.fi. and for their close relatives. Services are free of charge for immigrants.fi/english/immigrants/torturesurvivors.

Immigrants’ problems are mainly related to financial. On the one hand the threshold to seeking help is too high for many immigrants and they turn to the social services too late. but there are occasionally families. homeless immigrants have somewhat different and less severe problems than Finnish homeless people. but there are some young women and couples. Substance problems among immigrants are part of a difficult combination of cultural differences. Most clients of the Helsinki special welfare office are men. which shows that homelessness is not a problem of only some specific ethnic groups. whereas Finnish homeless people often have mental health and substance abuse problems. In 2000. there were about 100 immigrants in Helsinki living permanently in dormitories for homeless people. homeless immigrants do not usually have obvious alcohol problems but some have drug abuse problems. The personnel working with homeless immigrants report two trends among immigrant clients. Homeless women are usually young and few are old. the number of immigrants has increased considerably in the Helsinki dormitories.2 Gender division of homeless immigrants In general. The proportion of immigrants among homeless women as a whole is difficult to estimate.) According to the personnel working with homeless persons.other services have had clients from all over the world but many of the nationalities are single cases. The proportion of immigrants in the dormitories for homeless men and women in the Helsinki region varies from a few per cent to one third or more. 9. Some of the dormitories aim at 36 . Recent research has revealed that there are also homeless Western Europeans in Helsinki and that not all immigrants from Western Europe are well off and well integrated. 9. (Rastas 2002. as is often assumed. (Kärkkäinen 2000.3 Immigrants in dormitories for homeless people According to Rastas (2002). Women’s homelessness is usually largely hidden. 51-52. Poor language skills and lack of vocational skills make integration and finding employment more difficult. However.) About 17 per cent of the 10 000 homeless in Finland are women (Tiitinen & Ikonen 2002). Unemployment and the accumulation of deprivation cause homelessness amongst immigrants. the number of homeless women rose in Finland during the 1990s. language problems. some immigrants have high demands and expect things to be done for them quickly. problems related to being an immigrant and homelessness. At the Unit for Immigrant Services in Helsinki most of the clients are young men. Many immigrants are not fully aware of their rights and all the available services. as was stated above. In the services for immigrants and homeless people homelessness is mainly a problem of immigrant men and young people. In general. rental and cultural matters. homelessness is more common among immigrant men than women. The homeless immigrants covered by the survey were from 16 countries. when they already have serious problems. By contrast.

Nearly half the interviewees were divorced from their Finnish spouse. Merja Rastas (2002) has reported an interview study made by an NGO providing services for homeless people to find out the experiences of homeless immigrants living in dormitories. the harder it is for immigrants to live there”. Many conflicts between Finns and immigrants have been reported. About 10 per cent of the interviewees went to work from the dormitory or they had retired.keeping the proportion of immigrants around a maximum ten per cent.) Finnish homeless people and homeless immigrants are such heterogeneous groups that it is hard to make comparisons. (Rastas 2002. (Rastas 2002. the major problem is placing Finnish homeless people and immigrants in the same dormitories. Only a couple of immigrants have stayed at the worst ones. Altogether 40 immigrants who were living in dormitories in Helsinki were interviewed for the research. 59-64. For most immigrants dormitories are temporary solutions and they do not see them as a way of living for a long period of time. (Rastas 2002. Rastas estimates that immigrants generally stay at dormitories for shorter periods than Finns do. There is a strong solidarity among these men and often hostility towards other groups. even though many immigrants stay at dormitories in several different periods. 59-61. 51-52. and there may be limits on the length of the stay. whereas others permit permanent stays. There were also students in dormitories. (Rastas 2002. such as drugaddicts or immigrants. (Rastas 2002. There is racism at dormitories for homeless people: “the darker the skin. At some dormitories the personnel actively help clients to find a dwelling. whereas those living in big and not so well equipped dormitories tend to stay elsewhere if they possibly can. These reasons partly explain the increase in immigrant clients in social and homelessness services. According to the personnel of the special social welfare office. Often other service users have a negative attitude towards immigrants.) In general.) The personnel working with immigrants estimate that both authorities and immigrants are nowadays more aware of services and projects. many of the residents in Helsinki dormitories and shelters are Finnish alcoholic men. 50-52. The personnel of some of the dormitories have also been reported as racist and hostile towards immigrants. (Rastas 2002. Until recently there was not much information about immigrants living in dormitories for homeless people. The authorities are also more aware of the situation and problems of immigrants than they were before. 48. It seems that immigrants living in small dormitories of a better quality tend to live there regularly. The stay at a dormitory may vary from a couple of days to several years. In most dormitories it is difficult for Muslims to pray or for people to observe other religious or cultural habits.) Different 37 . There are no statistics on the length of the average stay of different groups. Immigrants find it difficult to maintain social relations at dormitories and to have their own privacy.) Living in a dormitory is a difficult and shocking experience for many immigrants. 52-54.) Most dormitories have single rooms but some still have big halls where people sleep.

some young immigrants are at great risk of exclusion and in need of support. The Ingrians have come to Finland voluntarily and most of them have waited a long time for a residence permit. however. 54-55. 38 . poor educational background. they generally have more mental competence than average Finnish homeless people. There are no statistics on the proportion of young homeless immigrants and it is hard to estimate their proportion of all the homeless young people. 12).) According to Tuula Reiman (1999). The youth housing situation has been eased especially in the larger cities by youth apartments. having no hobbies and moving from institutional care to an independent form of living. (Rastas 2002. These figures are. (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. Ingrian Finns who stay at dormitories have a positive attitude to the future and they seem to have many resources to help them to survive in a transit situation of temporary living at the beginning of their stay in Finland. (Kärkkäinen 2002. coming to Finland without parents. Finland has some housing set aside specifically for young people. such as arrival in Finland at the age of 15-17. Several factors increase the risk of exclusion. poor language skills. One of the purposes of the Social Welfare and Child Welfare Acts is to prevent homelessness among young people. unemployment. According to the research. Merja Rastas presumes that even though many immigrants suffer from depression and difficult experiences in the past. Approximately one fifth (about 2 000 persons) of all homeless single persons in Finland are estimated to be under the age of 25. uncertain and may in fact be much higher. Municipalities are obliged to provide housing services for persons in special need of assistance. ongoing family reunification process and negative decision to reunification application. which probably accounts for their positive attitudes.groups are often placed in different rooms.) 10 Young immigrants 10. Finland has some youth and other housing associations producing and renting apartments for young people at reasonable rents. corridors or parts of the dormitory if possible. At the same time homelessness became more hidden because young homeless people do not usually want to go to hostels or shelters so they stay with friends or relatives more often than older homeless persons do. 21-22.1 Homelessness among young immigrants The average age of homeless people fell in the 1990s. One important type is that for which full-time students can apply.) Homelessness among young people is a problem especially in the biggest cities and above all in the metropolitan region (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. and support with housing. Young people who have been child welfare clients come under child welfare after care for ages 18-21. Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. and the municipality is obliged to supply them with housing.

231). 47. According to professionals working with young immigrants. (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. Young men occasionally have problems adapting the habits of their community.) 10. 14). as young people establish contact and bond with the majority culture faster than their parents (Lepola 2002. 16-18. Some youngsters have left home or they have been forced to leave. Many immigrants who arrived in Finland in the 1990s now have children who are teenagers and young adults. youth homes or some other form of residential care for young people. Recently the Government has proposed this amendment to the law on Integration of immigrants and reception of refugees among several other amendments in order to improve the law.) It has been proposed in several occasion during the last years that that refugees who come to Finland without parents and live in different forms of institutional care should also come under child welfare after care. Some professionals working with homeless immigrants see that one way of becoming homeless in Muslim communities is being despised by the community. Often parents have not integrated in the new country very well but they have great expectations for their children. 39 . are there any homeless immigrant young people or homeless children on the streets. cultural conflicts are common in immigrant families. Nor. Ethnic communities often reject youngsters who use alcohol or drugs or who do not otherwise behave according to their norms. Most of the children who spend time on the streets are teenagers who do have a fixed abode: a home or a place in residential care.3 Cultural and inter-generational conflicts In many cases homelessness among young Finns is the result of conflicts with their parents (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. otherwise support flats or institutional care is sought for them. according to the social authorities and professionals working with young immigrants.(Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997. Many parents have lost their authority and role as a parent. and some are reported as staying at different places or as spending a lot of time on the streets. It is very rare and nearly impossible for minors to live for a long time on the streets without any adult contacts. they do not speak much Finnish and their children take control over them. Conflicts between the generations are common. Most of these children return home. 10. There are thought to be a few dozen or possibly about a hundred minors in the Helsinki region who spend much time on the streets. This often seems to apply to young immigrants as well. The child welfare authorities place minors who cannot live at home in foster families.2 No street children in Finland Finland does not have any street children in the extreme sense of the word. Sometimes youngsters run away for a couple of days and some want to adventure. The way of life of many young immigrants is so different from that of their families and relatives that they inevitably run into problems with them.

dissonant acculturation (children usually acculturate at a different phase from their parents). the community rejects them and they risk running into gangs and criminality. The young come to the shelter on their own initiative. 10. Kyntäjä 1998). adolescents generally receive more mainstream influences than the first generation. The aim is to provide emergency assistance.html) 40 . In addition. norms and expectations that make their situation ambiguous and confusing. which increase their vulnerability to homelessness. statuses. homelessness among young immigrants seems to be related to their desire to become independent. Many young immigrants have drug abuse problems and often related criminality. In attending school. and to find and mobilise the resources of the young person and the family.fi/nuoret/english/emergency. Due to the youngsters’ better command of Finnish and their understanding of the way Finnish society works.) Intergenerational conflicts often occur between parents or guardians and their adolescent sons. It has been difficult to find new dwellings in Helsinki for young immigrants with drug problems and/or who have committed crimes. 126-147) on young Somalis apply not only to Somalis but at least partly to other immigrant groups as well. Adolescence as such and being a refugee in a new society are states of liminality these young people have to face. the roles of parents and adolescents are often reversed. According to Rastas (2002. role reversal within the family and a family culture that emphasises strong parental authority place these young people in a liminal position. an emergency shelter can be found in five cities in Finland. Alitolppa-Niitamo calls the young Somalis who arrived in Finland as teenagers in the 1990s “the in-between generation”.g. there is a serious and growing drug problem among young Russian and Ingrian immigrants (see e.) Such inter-generational and cultural conflicts would in extreme circumstances appear to contribute to the homelessness of young immigrants who run away from home or whose guardians insist that they leave. many young persons find themselves in between multiple definitions. but also to the problems caused by living between two cultures. and it is implemented with the help of solution-orientated methods. In general. The findings of Anne Alitolppa-Niitamo (2001. According to her.Consequently. 126-147. the Ministry of Labour 1998b. The reasons for conflicts usually lie in the sons’ claims for greater freedom and the parents’ demands for greater respect and unquestioning obedience. without an appointment. (www. Many of the young immigrants have fallen between two cultures and they may not have integrated with either.redcross. (Alitolppa-Niitamo 2001. Parents may feel that they are no longer capable of controlling their offspring. 57).4 Services for young immigrants Shelters for young persons run by the Finnish Red Cross Emergency shelters are centres specialising in crisis work with young people. 126-147. At present. (Alitolppa-Niitamo 2001. The work at the shelters is preventive and family-oriented.

Estonians. According to the personnel. responsibilities and curfews. Young people usually spend from one night to a couple of weeks or even longer in the shelter.1 International children’s homes There is an international children’s home in Helsinki run by an NGO called Folkhälsan. The home is mulcticultural and it serves all municipalities. and meals.4. Shelters are needed as “interim” places where things can be sorted out. All the immigrant clients are first generation immigrants. The home receives immigrant children and adolescents who cannot live at home or at relatives’ because of intergenerational conflicts or other problems in the family. The percentage of immigrants seeking accommodation in shelters has risen in the past few years and they now account for one fifth of the total. Russians and Estonian are overrepresented in relation to their number in Finland. The placement is meant to be as short as possible but it may sometimes last several years. They provide temporary accommodation. Girls have a more urgent need to stay indoors whereas boys manage for longer and more easily out of doors or staying with friends. Each year a couple of immigrant clients are placed in an international children’s home (see below). The children and young people are given skills needed to cope in a Finnish society and their identity and background are supported and taken into account. the majority are aged 14-17. 37-38.1. which want to introduce new 41 . health and youth fields. 10.1. (Hannikainen & Kärkkäinen 1997.The shelters are in the nature of temporary homes for young people. Problematic relationships and domestic violence are common reasons for seeking refuge in a shelter. Russians and Kurds. some immigrant groups do not easily seek help from outsiders. a place to rest.2 Children of the Station helps street children Children of the Station (Aseman Lapset) is a nation-wide organisation founded to prevent exclusion among young people.) The shelter clients have to be under the age of 19. Some of the children have been taken into custody and some have come to Finland on their own without a family. The personnel claim that boys need help just as much as girls but they often seek it at a later stage.fi) 10. children’s homes or foster families. when their problems have become worse. after which they should return home.folkhalsan. Immigrants come less often because of alcohol abuse problems in the family but more often because of mental health problems and violence. Its members consist of the representatives of the social. friends.or girlfriend. other Africans. (www. About 70 per cent of the clients return home. Immigrants often come because of disagreements over cultural issues or conflicts at home about a boy. They also come for the same reasons as Finns: issues related to school. headed by Somalis. About 10 per cent move into supported Red Cross apartments or student flats. About 70 per cent of the clients are girls.4. All the biggest immigrant groups in Finland have been represented. Special problems that can be related to problems in school and in integration due to cultural differences and lack of social support network are also treated. About 20 per cent are placed in youth homes.

11 Discussion: Reasons for homelessness among immigrants This last chapter discusses the reasons why immigrants may become homeless. For many of them.3 Supported housing for young immigrants According to research and the personnel working with young immigrants. In 1999. Most of the young people living in Ehjä supported flats have been refugees. see www. The young people need help with their daily living skills. there were over 80 immigrant youngsters in a need of supported housing. (For more information. It also seeks to break up the gang network and replace it with a community safety net.1. because without support they would soon lose the dwelling. 10. The support persons may live nearby or visit frequently. being provided with a dwelling is not enough. Others have lived with relatives and have run into problems with them. Merja Rastas (2002) stresses that the reasons for homelessness among 42 .asemanlapset. Is the process similar to that of Finns. With the help of supported housing they can be encouraged to carry on with their studies. Some come from a childcare institution. foster care or from the street. The organisation aims at helping street and other children by providing cafes and other meeting places for young people with multiple problems. (Reiman 1999. Some refugees come straight from reception centres. 13. or are there any special features? Researchers and most professionals working with immigrants and homeless immigrants agree that immigrants have a greater risk of homelessness than Finns. The essential idea is to create a personal and living interaction between the adults and the young. They need great support in their everyday lives to develop the skills needed for independent living. etc.thinking to the action of how the children's and young peoples' future will be protected.4. Some have come to Finland without their parents and have been in Finnish institutional care until they reach the age of 18. there is a shortage of supported housing for young immigrants in the metropolitan region. substance abuse problems. their biological family.) Ehjä ry is an NGO offering supported housing alternatives in communes and apartments for young adults aged 17-22 in need of special supervision to prepare them for more independent living. According to Ehjä.fi/tietopankki/in_english/). Immigrants’ risk of homelessness is also mentioned in the national programme for preventing social exclusion drawn up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (2001). the young immigrants in their supported flats have various backgrounds. The Finnish Slot Machine Association and municipalities finance these supported flats. About half the clients have been foreigners. going to school. Young immigrants living in support flats need considerable support. to look for jobs and to take control of their lives. the number of foreigners is especially high in the cafes.

15 For more information on housing problems among immigrants in Finland. Immigrants frequently have problems with the dwelling itself and use of the communal premises. Finnish neighbours complain easily about noise and ethnic smells caused by immigrants. Finnish bureaucracy.) Some immigrants cannot read or write and some have come straight to the municipality via family reunification or as quota refugees. immigrants’ most significant housing problems are homelessness. they can live with them instead of staying in a reception centre. The reasons for immigrants’ housing problems have.) According to the research. Sometimes neighbours complain about immigrants easily or even for no real reason (Qvist & Rastas 2002. Maahanmuuttajien asumisen ongelmia ja ratkaisuja. It takes a long time for immigrants to integrate. and often there is no common language. Reiman 1999. 11. Somalis experience more problems than. and often immigrants suffer from attitudes of Finnish habitants.)15 Rastas.immigrants are so numerous and varied that often the only thing homeless immigrants have in common is their homelessness. 119. say. Russians. who are easily disturbed by noise.1 Housing problems the cause of immigrant homelessness Cultural differences between immigrants and Finns are a frequent source of conflict in the community. 14 43 . The chance of living in private accommodation is an important factor promoting the welfare of asylum seekers but extra people living in the homes of other immigrants have caused problems for the house management and increased the hostility towards immigrants. (The Ministry of Labour 1998a.14) Such cultural conflicts between immigrants and their neighbours are often seen as a major reason for immigrants’ housing problems and evictions. A forthcoming publication by the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (Stakes). Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001. Merja (2001). nearly 30 per cent of immigrants have experienced discrimination in the housing markets: Arabs. According to Tuula Reiman. (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Liebkind 1997. Merja Rastas 2001. Estonians. see Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001 or Rastas 2001 and 2002. in the light of research. (Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001. legal matters and the Finnish way of life in apartment buildings. Several researchers have reported disturbance and violent attacks on immigrants by their neighbours. this makes it more difficult for them to adapt to the Finnish way of life. There is often a lack of information in the vernacular.) If asylum seekers have relatives or friends in Finland. and the need for guidance on how to live in a different housing culture (Reiman 1999). Ingrians and Somalis most of all (Jasinskaja-Lahti & Liebkind 1997). (Qvist & Rastas 2002. cultural conflicts and misunderstanding. Cultural conflicts are especially marked in apartment blocks such as those in which most immigrants live. poor language skills. The rhythm of life of immigrants may be different from that of their neighbours. (Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001. crowding. often been insufficient guidance about regulations. 119124). 13.

Municipalities do not normally provide municipal dwellings for immigrants who have moved from other municipalities into temporary dwellings until they have lived in the new municipality for a certain time. do not usually want to live in a small municipality or rural region. especially to the cities of Southern Finland. 44 . Young single immigrant men. At this point they find themselves on the same municipal housing waiting list as others in urgent need of housing. Refugees tend to move from rural and semi-urban to urban municipalities. Some integrate well with the ethnic community in a new municipality but those who do not get social support from the community often seek the services for the homeless or immigrants. (Ahlgren-Leinvuo 2002. The movement of refugees may cause problems for their integration and the planning of refugee work in municipalities. It is easier for them to try to live in Helsinki than for big families who have to find somewhere for their children to live as well. most refugees move inside Finland to the metropolitan region and Turku (a city in Southern Finland) within three years after placement in a municipality. This system works well.10. but problems arise when they decide to move to another municipality.2000). It may therefore take a long time to get a permanent municipal dwelling in a new home municipality. Receiving municipalities complain that refugees get financial aid to move from a municipality even if they do not have a job or studies to go to in the new municipality. in particular. move into the metropolitan region. refugees are provided with a first dwelling by the municipality to which they are first assigned. Somalis. According to the research.11.) Refugees can usually get financial support for the move from the municipality they move from. Many men who have not integrated in the placement municipality move to Helsinki from all over the country. The increase in homelessness among immigrants is a consequence of the concentration of immigrants in the Helsinki region and other cities. and many prefer living in or near a town. Refugees and immigrants are free to move inside the country.) The policy of directing refugees to other municipalities when the state grants are no longer available has been heavily criticised by such cities as Turku and Helsinki that receive these refugees (Helsingin Sanomat 12. Kokko 2002. Refugees and Ingrian Finns moving inside Finland and arriving in Finland under family reunification schemes have greatly increased the number of immigrants in Helsinki. Kokko 2002. Some professionals working with homeless immigrants claim that refugees cause their own homelessness by not staying in the municipal flat that is offered to them. in particular.2 Secondary migration of refugees and Ingrian Finns towards cities As was stated above. (Ahlgren-Leinvuo 2002. Approximately 500-700 refugees move inside Finland each year. The Unit for Immigrant Services of the City of Helsinki estimates that 90 per cent of refugees and Ingrian Finns want to live in Helsinki despite the shortage of housing. often a year (Qvist 2002).

After a short while new residents easily run into problems with permanent residents and start looking for somewhere else to live.) Immigrants who want to move to a city commonly end up living on a temporary basis with relatives or friends in crowded dwellings. Some 45 . Immigrant clients usually have several problems. On the other hand. the temporary visitors and the neighbours. and rejection by their own community. 27-29. (Rastas 2002. and many single immigrants do not want to live on their own. It is more common for immigrants to live with friends or relatives than it is for average Finns in Helsinki. increasing among immigrants. It is natural in many cultures to live with others. The situation of immigrants who do not have an ethnic community in Finland or in the municipality in which they are living is thus difficult. Social support networks help immigrants by offering temporary accommodation and other social and financial support. Rejection or loss of the support of their own community is also a serious problem that may force immigrants to turn to the social services.4 Integration problems and lack of support networks cause homelessness Research indicates that the lack of support networks makes homelessness a bigger problem for immigrants than for Finns (Reiman 1999. Social exclusion is. Some professionals working with homeless immigrants say that only immigrants who do not have strong social networks seek the dormitories for homeless people. One indicator of this phenomenon is complaints from neighbours about extra persons living in immigrants’ dwellings without paying their water rates that have to be paid according to the number of persons living in a dwelling. Immigrants who do have a dwelling often feel responsible for housing homeless acquaintances or relatives even if their housing conditions then become crowded. helplessness. 58. Many refugees have had difficult experiences in the past that may hinder their integration and some have untreated mental health problems.3 Many immigrants stay with relatives and acquaintances It is estimated that there is considerable hidden and secondary homelessness among immigrants. 4142. Of the major immigrant groups residing in Finland the Somalis. criminality. There are naturally major differences between immigrant groups.11. as many of them live temporarily with friends or relatives but are actually homeless. Crowded housing is often difficult for all involved: the permanent residents.) 11. generally have strong social networks (Alitolppa-Niitamo 1994). Between 1998 and 2001 the number of immigrants and immigrant families living with their parents increased. immigrants are often forced to stay with other people. 12). but immigrants usually have a strong social network among fellow countrymen and other immigrants who take care of its members. (Rastas 2002. They also assume that the high proportion of immigrant clients is due to the fact that many immigrants do not have the social support network of relatives or acquaintances they would normally have in their home countries. according to the personnel working with homeless immigrants. for example. such as mental health problems.

(Pärtty-Äyräväinen 2001. say. another reason for the low percentage is that families usually overtake single persons on the waiting list for social housing. When immigrants move to a city because of better working and education opportunities. which create financial instability.g. homelessness may be related to attempts to integrate.) Sometimes big families have to be housed in separate dwellings. Big immigrant families are often housed in crowded conditions. 58. According to the personnel working with immigrants. In addition to the shortage of available small dwellings. Merja Rastas (2002) argues that homelessness among immigrants is not always related to exclusion: on the contrary. Homelessness among immigrants is usually related to unemployment and temporary employment.) It is often assumed that the private rental markets are not keen to rent to immigrants and that it may even be impossible for immigrants to find a private dwelling (Reiman 1999. leaving their municipality and coming to Helsinki even though they know how tough the housing situation is. it is on the whole easier for Ingrian Finns to find dwellings than for refugees. Young immigrants starting out on their own and young single homeless men need small dwellings. as are all homeless single Finns. In most cases it is not possible for the unemployed or indigent people to rent a dwelling on the private market and to pay an agency’s commission and a guarantee rent. unwillingness of landlords to support the move. (Tiitinen 2002. Rastas 2002. see also Kokko 2002.) Only some 13-15 per cent of single persons applying for a municipal dwelling in 2001 in Helsinki could get one. This period is too short for many immigrants. The personnel stress that their clients represent a marginal proportion of immigrants. There are two major housing problems in the metropolitan region and in most other cities: a lack of small dwellings for single homeless persons and of big dwellings for immigrant families with many children. Rastas assumes that immigrants may be more prepared than Finns to take risks and be more tolerant of insecurity on. the process is often very slow or almost impossible for various reasons (e. 46 . Immigrants often have short-term jobs and insecure and irregular incomes that make landlords unwilling to rent dwellings to them. (Tiitinen 2001. long waiting lists). (Rastas 2002.immigrant clients have severe integration problems but some are well integrated. Refugees and Ingrian Finns are clients of the municipal Units for Immigrant Services for three or two years after moving into a municipality. who need housing assistance and other support for longer. paper work. On the heated housing markets in the metropolitan region landlords can choose their tenants.5 Structural housing matters cause homelessness Some of the reasons for homelessness among immigrants are structural. If immigrants want to move to another dwelling. such as lack of reasonably-priced dwellings. 12).) 11. so they preferably do not rent to immigrants. Single homeless immigrants are also in a difficult position.

57-58. unreasonably high rent and difficulty paying the rent. The same applies to Finnish households that have been evicted for rent arrears.) According to Rastas. according to a study by Merja Rastas (2002). (Reiman 1999. the Unit for Immigrant Services states that private owners rent dwellings to immigrants because the social authorities may pay the immigrants’ rent.6 Difficult for immigrants to find a dwelling after eviction Evictions of all households. After separation many immigrants first live with relatives or friends while trying to find a dwelling and only then move to a dormitory. (Rastas 2002.) It may be very difficult for evicted homeless immigrants beset by homelessness and debts to find a new home where they will be accepted. It is also common for landlords not to want to renew contracts with immigrants. whereas poorer flats are often willingly hired to them because immigrants will accept dwellings without complaining. 55-56.The rental markets are aware of the desperate situation of immigrants and in some areas they offer immigrants poor dwellings at unreasonable prises. Some men who are without permanent 47 . Some immigrant families have also lost their creditworthiness because of rent arrears. the termination of their rental contract for a private dwelling. Finding a new dwelling on the private market can be almost impossible for persons on a low income. and especially of immigrant families cause complex problems both for the families themselves and for the welfare authorities. In some cases they are not even aware that an eviction process has started. it does not solve the problems and instead creates new ones. Large immigrant families living in small dwellings have been evicted because of the noise and other problems. Some immigrant men and women have become homeless as a result of separation or divorce. and this reduces their chances of getting another municipal dwelling. the paths of homelessness of immigrant men are especially complicated. 11. 12. According to several professionals working with immigrants. Many immigrant families have. Many immigrants have rent arrears. 11-12). (Rastas 2002.) Immigrants often do not know what to do if they are in danger of being evicted. Men often visit relatives and friends in the metropolitan region and sometimes end up staying with them. Certain legalities have to be fulfilled before evictions can be carried out but it is hard to check or verify them and to estimate the role of prejudice. It seems that private landlords who have valuable dwellings in good condition do not usually want to rent them to immigrants. On the other hand. evicting immigrants is a poor and expensive form of housing policy. however. One of the most common reasons for immigrants living in dormitories was. In such cases it is sometimes possible for them to get a dwelling owned by the Y-Foundation. been evicted. Not being creditworthy can hinder their chances of getting a municipal dwelling (Vesanen & Tiitinen 1998. Among the reasons for termination were the periodic nature of the contract. After the break-up many immigrants are on their own in a new country for the first time and they are not always able to handle all their daily affairs by themselves.

Reiman 1999). it should be possible for homeless persons to get a permanent municipal dwelling straight away and not after a long stay in a dormitory or temporary dwelling. too. Applications have to be renewed yearly. Municipalities and the Y-Foundation could purchase more dwellings for refugees so that refugees would not always live in municipal rental dwellings. The Government has stated its intention to reduce homelessness. Municipalities need to be helped to find employment. • • • • • • Integration measures • Municipalities receiving refugees should undertake to find employment for refugees and to use the employment potential of the whole region. Merja Rastas points out that the applications of homeless immigrants should be screened more carefully. This way immigrants would not have so much need to move to bigger cities. Often men stay in dormitories for varying lengths of time when they do not have anywhere else to go. There should be more municipal emergency dwellings where social workers can place immigrants who have.g.) Authorities and NGOs could teach refugees and immigrants how to look after a dwelling and pay the rent. 56-57. for example. The compensation granted to municipalities by the Ministry of the Environment for providing dwellings should be raised. been evicted or need temporary accommodation for some other reason (see Reiman 1999). It is to be hoped that the programme will reduce homelessness among immigrants as well.accommodation try to meet up with Finnish women in restaurants and bars in the hope of being offered somewhere to stay. 41. Municipal social housing could be spread more evenly over different parts of cities. (Qvist 2002.) 12 Recommendations Housing policies • • • General housing policy measures have often been found to improve the housing situation of immigrants as well (see e. This would make it easier to place immigrants in dormitories and they would adapt there more easily. According to personnel working with homeless immigrants. (Rastas 2002.g. The living conditions in dormitories and shelters should be improved and there should be more single bedrooms. There should be services such as those provided by the special social welfare office in Helsinki in other cities.) Sometimes immigrants’ applications for social housing are incomplete and have not therefore been considered. training or study places for immigrants. A working group has made proposals for measures to reduce homelessness. which also causes problems for some immigrants. (Rastas 2002. dwellings that can be joined and separated again). Bigger dwellings and more flexible solutions are needed (e. A lot more support on housing and everyday life is • 48 .

20 or Qvist & Rastas 2002. 121). The role of housing guides is to solve and prevent housing problems. (Helsingin kaupungin kiinteistövirasto 2001. in particular. Somalis. Municipalities should also employ social workers or other personnel who can offer new immigrants housing guidance and support.• needed. Meetings for tenants are a good way for immigrants to get to know their neighbours and to express their wishes concerning housing. have requested such meeting places (Rastas 2001). So far social counselling and special counselling for immigrants have usually been temporary projects rather than widespread practices in Finland. The aim of their work is also to make residents feel at home and to improve the atmosphere. solve arguments and make immigrants feel at home. 49 • . inform residents and foster co-operation. A model for housing issues to be included in integration plans was prepared in 1999. The work of housing counsellors has prevented evictions and it has been possible to organise rent payments. but they are likely to become more common and regular practice in the metropolitan region and in other cities with a large immigrant population. Social housing guidance as an integration measure • It has proved beneficial for municipalities to include housing issues in the integration plan they make with immigrants. cultural and linguistic competence makes it easier to give housing information. Employing workers with the same ethnic background. Housing counsellors working in pairs of a Finn and an ethnic worker have often been the best solution. 123). Meeting places should be provided so that immigrants do not need to meet up in small dwellings and disturb neighbours. 3. Housing guidance for immigrants could be part of ordinary social counselling. • Good practices of owners of social housing • • • It is important for municipalities and real estate companies to inform new residents about housing issues and offer help at the beginning. Social counselling as a means of preventing evictions of immigrants • The idea of social counselling is to help and support residents and to create networks. In some municipalities social workers visit dwellings when a disturbance is reported in order to solve problems between immigrants and their neighbours straight away and to prevent evictions. Social support and mental health services are also important. (For more information see Reiman 1999. The idea is to share the responsibility for giving housing guidance over different authorities and housing companies.) In cities owners of municipal housing have used social counselling to prevent evictions that are often caused by cultural conflicts between immigrants and their neighbours or by immigrants who are ignorant of Finnish norms for living in rental housing (Qvist & Rastas 2002. This way evictions and loss of a dwelling for other reasons could be prevented.

Municipalities have also translated their housing regulations into various languages. Special measures for young immigrants • • Some groups of young immigrants are at greater risk of social exclusion. They need supported housing and other forms of support. 16). 16). (Reiman 1999. Housing counsellors have noticed that often spoken information to immigrants works much better than written material. Often Finns are not used to living in a multi-cultural milieu and having many immigrant neighbours. Housing information could be one of the services.) The personnel of the Red Cross shelters have found that supported flats in which Finnish and young immigrants live together are a good means of integration and instructive for both parties. Personal integration plans should be made for them. but the proportion of immigrants among homeless persons is thought to be growing. but the real number is estimated to be much bigger. In Finland as a whole there may be about 1 000 homeless immigrants if the children of the homeless families are included. 13 Conclusions Immigration is a relatively new phenomenon in Finland since up to the 1990s Finland was a country of emigration. There are approximately 100 000 immigrants in Finland. It is a useful practice for the residents’ committee to welcome. Such practices should be more common. The number of homeless persons has remained at around 10 000 for several years. refugees and Ingrians are entitled to the same 50 . the absence of colonial ties. Once they have been granted a residence permit. The number of illegal immigrants is reckoned to be very small. the strict immigration policy and efficient border control. Other reasons for the relatively small number of immigrants are the isolated location. Most of the homeless immigrants are in Helsinki. The reception system for refugees and Ingrians of Finnish descent is wellorganised and has developed considerably over the past decade.• • • Courses on housing issues and housekeeping help single immigrant men to live independently (Reiman 1999. More info centres run by immigrants in the housing areas should be established. inform and advise all new immigrant tenants about housing issues (Reiman 1999. The number of immigrants is low in Finland by international standards even though that of foreign residents multiplied in the 1990s and the increase was notably fast in the early years of the decade. and vice versa. Information for immigrants and Finns • • • There is a growing need for information for immigrants about Finnish culture and the Finnish way of life. Guides to living and housing in Finland have been produced and translated into several languages.

Refugees are placed in municipalities able to provide the necessary housing and other services. the authorities have not expected to find homelessness among them. Furthermore. and refugees who move inside the country are thus in a weak position. Unemployment is relatively high among immigrants and it is thus practically impossible for them to get private dwellings. etc. moving inside the country. There are no homeless street children in Finland. The movement of immigrants inside Finland was not taken into account in planning immigration and refugee policies in the 1990s. It is easier for Finns than for immigrants to make other arrangements. Both groups prefer to live in growth centres.social security benefits and health services as Finns. Previously there were no immigrants in dormitories and shelters for homeless people but in recent years their proportion has increased notably in Helsinki and in other cities in Finland. and the situation in the cities is difficult for both. the amount of homelessness among immigrants has been estimated and related research conducted. For these reasons housing problems and homelessness among immigrants have been considered to be very marginal in housing policy debate and not much research has been done into the housing situation of immigrants. Some of them have left or been forced to leave home. In the cities of Southern Finland the housing situation is also difficult for Finns. however. Since they are given their first dwelling. They usually apply for municipal rental housing but few single applicants are granted a dwelling and even families have to queue. and there are signs of exclusion. Only the housing difficulties of Ingrians were previously mentioned in housing debate. Some may spend a lot of time in the streets but they do have a place to go to. Recently. friends and possibly better chances of employment and study. such as renting a dwelling on the private 51 . The majority of refugees and Ingrian Finns want to move from the municipalities where they have been placed into the metropolitan region and other cities in Southern Finland where they have relatives. integration problems and other reasons many young immigrants are trapped between two cultures. Immigrants who move inside the country often end up living with relatives or acquaintances or in dormitories. both immigrants and Finns. while immigrants who have been in the country for a long time become homeless because of divorce. Nowadays immigrants have different paths to homelessness. Homelessness among Finns is nowadays more and more a problem of severe social exclusion. The question is often raised of how the homelessness among immigrants differs from that among Finns. Refugees who move into the metropolitan region lose the housing provided by the municipality and have to join the same municipal housing queue as everybody else. It is mainly a problem affecting young men. the time the person or the household has lived in the city is taken into consideration in allocating municipal housing. Due to inter-generational and cultural conflicts. The reasons for homelessness among immigrants are becoming more complex. The homelessness problem of immigrants is growing and changing. eviction.

education and employment. or s/he is for some reason excluded from the community. who often seem to be excluded from their families as well. Housing support and housing guidance from authorities are available in most municipalities and are currently being developed. homelessness is becoming a general problem due to the lack of reasonably-priced dwellings. and they encounter cultural conflicts in the neighbourhood. since these help to reduce housing problems. Excluded Finns are usually able to find peers who are in the same position but for immigrants. fellow countrymen may be the only people they know well. Nevertheless. If an immigrant does not have a community in Finland or in the municipality where s/he lives. whereas immigrants usually have problems with rent payments and the rules of conduct in a Finnish apartment building. There are 52 . How will Finland handle the general homelessness problem and housing of immigrants who are already in the country and who come here in the future? Homeless immigrants are one element of the general problems of Finnish housing policy and can therefore be solved by a housing policy that aims to decrease structural homelessness among both Finns and immigrants. Instead of being a special problem facing certain immigrant groups. immigrants face integration and housing difficulties caused by the different housing culture and way of life. Foreigners are not usually welcome as tenants and they often have to turn to their relatives and acquaintances. Most Finnish people are not used to having foreigners as neighbours and their attitudes are often tough. the situation is difficult. The general housing situation poses problems for both Finns and immigrants. In addition to the universal social security. Immigrants do not usually have such good social and support networks as they did in their home countries but ethnic communities of fellow countrymen and other immigrants normally take good care of their members. The risk of eviction seems to be higher for immigrants than for Finns.market. It is also important to continue with the principle of social mixing in housing policy. Excluded immigrants need more special services that allow for their situation and different backgrounds. Homelessness among Finns is in many cases related to substance abuse and mental health problems. Other reasons for the relatively small number of immigrants are the isolated location. immigrants need more special measures and services that aim to promote integration. The number of immigrants is low in Finland by international standards even though that of foreign residents multiplied in the 1990s and the increase was notably fast in the early years of the decade. the absence of colonial ties and efficient border control. The situation is different for excluded Finns. it does not always help if a housing company wants to get rid of immigrant neighbours. In addition. 14 Conclusions Immigration is a relatively new phenomenon in Finland since up to the 1990s Finland was a country of emigration.

The number of illegal immigrants is reckoned to be very small. both immigrants and Finns. Refugees are placed in municipalities able to provide the necessary housing and other services. and there are signs of exclusion. Unemployment is relatively high among refugees and immigrants and it is thus practically impossible for them to get private dwellings. etc. Once they have been granted a residence permit. Immigrants who move inside the country often end up living with relatives or acquaintances or in dormitories. The homelessness problem of immigrants is growing and changing. There are no homeless street children in Finland. The reasons for homelessness among immigrants are becoming more complex. Some may spend a lot of time in the streets but they do have a place to go to. The reception system for refugees and Ingrians of Finnish descent is wellorganised and has developed considerably over the past decade. moving inside the country. but the real number is estimated to be much bigger. the amount of homelessness among immigrants has been estimated and related research conducted. Since they are given their first dwelling. Due to inter-generational and cultural conflicts. It is mainly a problem affecting young men. friends and possibly better chances of employment and study. Nowadays immigrants have different paths to homelessness. Refugees who move into the metropolitan region lose the housing provided by the municipality and have to join the same municipal housing queue as everybody else.approximately 100 000 immigrants in Finland. Homelessness among Finns is nowadays more and more a problem of severe social exclusion. however. In the cities of Southern Finland the housing situation is also difficult for Finns. Some of them have left or been forced to leave home. The majority of refugees and Ingrian Finns want to move from the municipalities where they have been placed into the metropolitan region and other cities in Southern Finland where they have relatives. refugees and Ingrians are entitled to the same social security benefits and health services as Finns. The movement of immigrants inside Finland was not taken into account in planning immigration and refugee policies in the 1990s. the authorities have not expected to find homelessness among them. Previously there were no immigrants in dormitories and shelters for homeless people but in recent years their proportion has increased notably in Helsinki and in other cities in Finland. The number of homeless persons has remained at around 10 000 for several years. Most of the homeless immigrants are in Helsinki. For these reasons housing problems and homelessness among immigrants have been considered to be very marginal in housing policy debate and not much research has been done into the housing situation of immigrants. but the proportion of immigrants among homeless persons is thought to be growing. while immigrants who have been in the country for a long time become homeless because of divorce. integration problems and other reasons many young immigrants are trapped between two cultures. 53 . Recently. Only the housing difficulties of Ingrians were previously mentioned in housing debate. eviction.

Most Finnish people are not used to having foreigners as neighbours and their attitudes are often tough. such as renting a dwelling on the private market. immigrants face integration and housing difficulties caused by the different housing culture and way of life. the situation is difficult. The risk of eviction seems to be higher for immigrants than for Finns even though housing support and housing guidance from authorities are available in most municipalities and are currently being developed to take into consideration special problems of immigrants. Both groups prefer to live in growth centres. Foreigners are not usually welcome as tenants and they often have to turn to their relatives and acquaintances. The general housing situation poses problems for both Finns and immigrants. It is also important to continue with the principle of social mixing in housing policy. They usually apply for municipal rental housing but few single applicants are granted a dwelling and even families have to queue. education and employment. immigrants need more special measures and services that aim to promote integration. Furthermore. How will Finland handle the general homelessness problem and housing of immigrants who are already in the country and who come here in the future? Homeless immigrants are one element of the general problems of Finnish housing policy and can therefore be solved by a housing policy that aims to decrease structural homelessness among both Finns and immigrants. fellow countrymen may be the only people they know well. If an immigrant does not have a community in Finland or in the municipality where s/he lives. Excluded Finns are usually able to find peers who are in the same position but for immigrants. In addition. The situation is different for excluded Finns. Instead of being a special problem facing certain immigrant groups. and they encounter cultural conflicts in the neighbourhood. since these help to reduce housing problems. Immigrants do not usually have such good social and support networks as they did in their home countries but ethnic communities of fellow countrymen and other immigrants normally take good care of their members. and the situation in the cities is difficult for both. homelessness is becoming a general problem due to the lack of reasonably-priced dwellings. or s/he is for some reason excluded from the community. who often seem to be excluded from their families as well. In addition to the universal social security. 54 . Homelessness among Finns is in many cases related to substance abuse and mental health problems. whereas immigrants usually have problems with rent payments and the rules of conduct in a Finnish apartment building. Excluded immigrants need more special services that allow for their situation and different backgrounds. It is easier for Finns than for immigrants to make other arrangements. the time the person or the household has lived in the city is taken into consideration in allocating municipal housing. and refugees who move inside the country are thus in a weak position.The question is often raised of how the homelessness among immigrants differs from that among Finns.

decisions 3) Refugees by quota.Additional quota 200 200 .No asylum or residence permit granted Family reunification Opinions/decision .500 500 Refugees 2 349 3 689 1 412 1 415 1 193 1 406 958 1 189 1 212 1 857 received by municipalities 3) 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 20 Immigrating as 6 361 050 462 877 070 476 434 623 835 692 refugees. Asylum seekers Error! Error! and refugees 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Asylum seekers 3 634 2 023 839 854 711 973 1 272 3 106 3 170 1 651 Decisions on asylum 1) . asylum seekers receiving a favourable decision. Directorate of Immigration 55 .Residence 564 2 073 301 219 334 277 372 467 458 809 permit granted 1 344 1 435 492 276 248 278 240 1 330 2 121 1 045 .Adverse .Appendix 1.838 765 880 513 299 769 362 392 785 opinions/decision s 2) Quota 500+ 500+ 500 500+ 500+ 500 600 650 700 750 .1 208 323 250 226 509 240 185 214 495 2) s in favour .Asylum granted 12 9 15 4 11 4 7 29 9 4 . persons admitted under the family reunification scheme Sources: Ministry of Labour. from 19731) Decisions of the Directorate of Immigration 2) From 1 May 1999.

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