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On 16 December, the Government submitted a report to Parliament on the development of housing policy. The report summarises the principles and objectives for housing policy and presents solutions to housing challenges for the years to come. The housing policy development programme aims to provide good and affordable housing for everybody.

The key objective of the development programme, implemented in 2021–2028, is to promote a long-term perspective in housing policy.

"Urbanisation continues. The Finnish housing market is becoming more and more differentiated, not only between different types of regions but also within towns and cities. With good housing policy, we can reduce inequality and create more equitable housing areas that are still diverse in terms of both residents and the natural environment," says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Emma Kari as she describes the main challenges of housing policy. "To combat the climate crisis, it is essential that Finland will move even faster towards low-carbon construction and housing," Kari says.

Guiding principles for housing policy

The Report on Housing Policy emphasises the need to recognise the impacts that different policy areas have on housing issues better than has been done so far. At the same time, housing policy can be used to promote equality, mitigation of climate emissions and labour mobility, and to even out cyclical fluctuations. To ensure the desired policy impact, housing policy must be pursued with a long-term perspective and across administrative branches.

The key principle of housing policy is that everyone has the right to a place and environment to live in that support their wellbeing. In developing housing policy, the focus must also be on the climate and environmental impacts of housing: one third of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by construction and buildings. Good urban planning, a transition to renewable energy sources and a long service life of buildings reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment.

According to the report, the role of the State in the housing market is to promote the good functioning of the housing market and try to even out the impacts of cyclical fluctuations in the construction sector. Different types of apartments are needed in the housing market: owner-occupied housing, right-of-occupancy apartments, private lessors, institutional operators and State-subsidised housing production. With respect to State grants and support, all types of housing must be treated equally.

State housing policy measures offer much needed solutions

The means of the State's housing policy include the agreements concerning land use, housing and transport (MAL) concluded by the State of Finland with the seven largest urban regions. The agreements provide guidance for the numbers of new apartments and their location in a way that is sensible in terms of mobility and the environment.

State-subsidised housing production of the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) is an important way for more people to find reasonably priced apartments. State-subsidised housing production is mainly targeted to growth centres, where the demand for housing is the greatest. To develop the residential building stock of regions with a shrinking population, measures are taken to improve the opportunities of housing companies to undertake renovations.

The development programme includes measures targeted to specific groups as well. The ASP scheme that offers a bonus to home savers is further develop to make it easier for young people to purchase their first apartment. Finland is also preparing for the ageing of the population by building one million accessible housing units by 2030. The possibilities of older people to live in their own home are supported with renovation grants.

What's next?

Parliament will consider the report during the spring session 2022. In future, the housing policy development programme will lead to different kinds of studies, legislative projects and a wide range of measures. Many of the solutions are included in the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Government.

The Government Report on Housing Policy is based on the work done by a working group steered by all parliamentary parties in 2020. The working group was chaired by Hannele Pokka, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment.

Source: Ministry of the Environment