KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Ross: Finland’s affordable housing strategy could work here too

Jan 20, 2023, 8:21 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

housing...

Kamppi apartments in Finland (Photo from Flickr @LewisMartin)

(Photo from Flickr @LewisMartin)

This week Colleen and I talked with one of the people who organized Finland’s successful campaign to get homeless people off the streets.

His name is Juha Kahila, he lives in Helsinki, and we wanted to know how Finland did it, so he told us.

More from Dave Ross: The coffee jitters are the least anxious part of my morning brew

“We got to rid of most of the shelters. And we renovated the shelters into housing first units where people have apartments of their own,” Kahila said. “And then we tried to get rid of almost all the temporary solutions, and we built more affordable housing, where people could have a home of their own for an unlimited time.”

They realized that the free market would never solve the problem. Because you can’t make a profit building low-income housing and providing support services to the residents, so his foundation used tax money to do it.

Here, of course, we believe in the magic of the free market, except we really don’t. I hear people say, “let’s unleash the energy of the free market, and we’ll be swamped with housing.” And yet those same people want to keep zoning rules in place. Well, how is single-family zoning a “free” market? It’s not. It’s the ultimate government control.

Earlier this month, a group called Challenge Seattle, backed by local employers, issued a very specific plan for ending homelessness. At the heart of it is upzoning. The report notes that 70% of the residential land in Bellevue and Seattle is zoned single-family. On Mercer Island, it’s 90%.

The report says the state should pre-empt local zoning whether neighbors want it or not.

I asked our guest from Finland about that – about how they managed to build all that low-income housing near middle-class neighborhoods. He admitted not every neighborhood was happy but that Finland’s history played a role in helping people accept it.

“I think the history of Finland helps a little bit because back in World War II, we lost a lot of land to Russia. And we needed to house 400,000 people who were left on the wrong side of the border,” Kahila said. “So I think we have that mentality, everyone deserves a home of their own.”

In Finland, they have the mentality that everyone deserves a home of their own!

Is there anyone here who feels that way?

My impression is that in America, our mindset is that if you’re homeless if you’re living under a bridge, or in a tent, or a beat-up RV, you must have done something to deserve it. If you can’t feed your kids – well, you shouldn’t have had kids. You need to take personal responsibility. I’ve heard that line on talk shows for years. It’s been their theme song. “Personal responsibility, free market solution – but don’t change our zoning.”

Well, I would say we’re living in the free market solution right now. The free market says if you can’t afford rent, you live in a tent. If you can’t pay, we throw you away.

Whereas In Finland, the attitude is – we share an 830-mile border with a country that tried to exterminate us. And we can’t afford to lose a single citizen – rich or poor.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

KIRO Newsradio Opinion

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Timed Toilets Are A Thing?!?!

A popular tourist attraction in China has installed digital clocks that display just how long someone’s been “in there.” They say it’s for safety reasons, but some claim it’s shaming their #2 time… 🚽 Listen to the John & Jake Show every weekday at 3pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. Listen to KIRO Newsradio 97.3 […]

1 day ago

police seattle schools...

Angela Poe Russell

Angela Poe Russell: Is it time to put police back in Seattle schools?

One senior from Garfield High School expressed disappointment over losing resource officers, wondering what difference their presence might have made.

3 days ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Trump Speech Causes Attendees To Pass Out

Former President Donald Trump had a rally at Las Vegas in Sunset Park where the temperatures were in the hundreds. Six rally-goers were sent to the hospital. Some say the Trump rallies are worth being out in the extreme heat for. Some rally-goers walked out early to escape it. Tune in live to The Jack […]

4 days ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Ray J Finally Talks about Kim Kardashian Tape

Ray J says more people would have gone to college if he didn’t release his tape with Kim Kardashian. Ray J has changed the course of history. Without Kim Kardashian’s and Ray J’s tape, would the world Jack and Jacob live in today be drastically different? Ray J says there would be no OnlyFans. Tune […]

4 days ago

luxury lane toll...

Dave Ross

Ross: Let the rich pay the exorbitant ‘luxury lane’ toll prices

The new higher tolls for solo drivers in the luxury lane are hitting the $15 maximum every rush hour, all to save exactly three minutes of driving.

5 days ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Rupert Murdoch Gets Married at 91

Can we stop letting people with horrifying impacts on society and culture get away with puff pieces on their weddings? Jack Stine and Spike O’Neill simply won’t stand for it. Tune in live to The Jack and Spike Show weekdays from noon to 3pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. And if that timing, or our […]

5 days ago

Ross: Finland’s affordable housing strategy could work here too