From compulsory subtenants to suburban regeneration – a new book published on the history of Helsinki’s housing policy

Uutta Helsinkiä
A brand new book sheds light on housing challenges and solutions in Helsinki from the 1940s to the present day. Helsinki’s housing policy also attracts interest abroad, Helsinki hosts a major international festival on social housing solutions this summer.

In the 1940s, Helsinki tackled the housing crisis following the Second World War by means such as placing compulsory subtenants in apartments that were considered spacious. The principle of mixing different housing tenures, on the other hand, is rooted in the youth riots that took place on Siilitie in the late 1950s, which caused people to wake up to the importance of new residential areas having a diverse population structure.

A new publication by the Helsinki City Executive Office, Helsinki’shousing policy – A historical overview and the current situation, sheds light on the historical development of housing and housing policy in Helsinki from the 1940s onwards, while also giving an overview of current housing policy decisions. The publication is illustrated with photographs from Helsinki City Museum’s collections.

Model city of solutions

Helsinki’s housing policy attracts interest both in Finland and abroad. The elements often admired in international contexts include the long-standing tradition of social mixing, successful efforts to reduce homelessness, Helsinki’s strong ownership of land, and the City having its own housing developer.

“From a housing policy perspective, Helsinki is an exemplary city in many respects, having responded successfully to many challenges during its history. One of its greatest successes has been ensuring that sufficient housing is now more easily available to all Helsinki residents than ever before. We have achieved concrete results in preventing inequality between areas with housing policy measures. In addition we’re now also responding to new challenges to ensure that our housing policy is as sustainable as possible for the environment as well as for future generations,” says Deputy Mayor for Urban Environment Anni Sinnemäki.

International Social Housing Festival in June

In June 2022, Helsinki welcomes housing experts from around the world as the host of the International Social Housing Festival. The event’s theme is the role of social housing production in the creation of a socially and ecologically sustainable city.

Another purpose of the new history of housing policy is to compile information on the phases and current state of housing and housing policy in Helsinki in a single publication for this summer’s festival guests.

The City of Helsinki organises the festival in cooperation with the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) and Housing Europe.

Read the book online: Helsinki’shousing policy – A historical overview and the current situation

InternationalSocial Housing Festival

Photo: Numeroushousing protests were held in Helsinki during the decades of the housingcrisis. A protest on Mannerheimintie in 1970. Helsinki City Museum /Simo Rista