The Helsinki Solution~~by Akje Majdanek

“Did you know a homeless woman once asked Hedda for a handout while she was getting out of her BMW in the parking lot? and she told the bag lady to get a job. Can you believe that? Where’s an old woman gonna get a job in this town? She must have been at least eighty. And do you think Hedda would give her one? Hell no. If you wouldn’t hire a homeless person yourself, you ought to keep your big fat mouth shut about them getting a job.”

Der Reiter, Akje Majdanek

We’ve all been there, applying for work. Getting dressed up in your nicest clothes for an interview at McDonald’s only to lose out to someone better dressed or better looking than you. Remind me again how homeless people are supposed to get the position? Fast food seems to have the highest turnover rate and are the easiest jobs to get, but how can a homeless person get one? They need to shower, shave, get a haircut and buy nice clothes first.

Helsinki thinks it has the answer. The city has introduced a housing first policy, and so far it seems to be working. In 1987 there were more than 18,000 homeless people in Finland. In 2019 there were an estimated 5,500.

Previously, a homeless person in Helsinki had to jump through hoops before receiving the final prize─a home. The steps included getting a job, getting therapy, getting sober, etc. depending on the individual’s situation. Few people climbed out of homelessness that way since even the simplest steps were difficult without money.

But now each person is given a small apartment with electricity and running water. The cost is initially borne by the government, then repaid from the formerly homeless when they get a job. Each apartment is individually rented─there is no forced sharing.

It’s easy to see how this could be altered by region to accommodate prevailing conditions around the globe; for instance, instead of paying for an apartment with cash it could be paid for with “sweat equity” like Habitat for Humanity does. But unlike Habitat for Humanity, there’d be no hoops to jump through first. This could work, and would likely cost less than what we’re doing now. It certainly deserves experimentation. I think the Steve Miller Band said it best:

Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Living in the street
Oh oh, there’s a solution.

Remember the books you had to read back in high school and college? Books like Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye, Anna Karenina, The Crucible, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Jane Eyre and a hundred other deep, profound, thought-provoking reads? And remember how you said, “My gawd, those were the most boring books I’ve ever read in my life. I swear I’ll never read anything with literary merit ever again. From now on it’s nothing but sparkly vampires for me!”

Remember that? So who’s writing brilliant stuff like that today? Who’s writing the books that future students will complain about in the universities of tomorrow?

Akje has no idea, but she’d love to find that author, buy him a bottle of Beam and plagiarize all his work. (#^.^#)

Discover more about Akje and her writing at these links:








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