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Helsinki provides additional night shelters for homeless

 
Deputy-Ombudsman receives report from city authorities

The City of Helsinki Social Services Department has assured Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin in a report submitted to her that night accommodation has been available to all homeless persons needing it in City-run temporary shelters this winter.

The City reports that since the end of last year it has made more effective use of residential places to meet the needs of temporary accommodation and taken an additional 25-place premises into use, since which it has been possible to give a night berth to everyone. In addition, the Social Welfare Department announced that it was monitoring the need for temporary accommodation and would arrange somewhere to stay overnight for all who required it.

The Deputy-Ombudsman intervened in the situation regarding the homeless in Helsinki after she had made an unannounced inspection visit to the City's Hietaniemenkatu service centre last April. It was noted then that during the worst periods of the winter twenty or so people had had to sleep on the floor of the centre, in the corridors, smoking room and bathrooms. 

The situation was regarded as giving cause for concern since it was also known that about 20 temporary accommodation places would be lost in the suburb of Myllypuro during the spring.

On the basis of the inspection, Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin called on the City of Helsinki to arrange, in good time before the winter, a sufficient number of low-threshold places offering round-the-clock services for persons with intoxicant problems and the homeless.

Newspaper article prompted request for report

It was after an article in the daily Helsingin Sanomat in November that Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin asked the City for a report on the measures that it had taken on the basis of the inspection. According to the newspaper, the City of Helsinki had not been able to provide all of the homeless with shelter on the first frosty night of the winter.

The City announced that it was aware of the need for temporary accommodation and that it had, already before the newspaper article, drafted a plan to increase accommodation.

In Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin's view, the City has taken the necessary measures to guarantee temporary accommodation for the homeless and no further action is needed in the matter.

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Anne Kumpula, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3396.