Briefly about the project
A Home that Fits is looking for innovative ways to solve the homelessness of under 25 year olds. The final goal is that by the year 2018 every young person would have a place to call home. The main tools for achieving this are design and cocreation with the young. A Home that Fits is turning the city’s empty spaces into housing for the young and showing how this can benefit the whole neighborhood. The first year of the project was funded by The European Social Fund and now our work is continuing with support from the City of Helsinki Innovation Fund.
Carrying out bold experiments with the young
A Home that Fits saw the light of day in the fall 2014 in a partner organizations’ meeting where was agreed that new solutions for the difficult housing situation of the young were needed. The project started as a collaboration between The Finnish Youth Housing Association (NAL), Y-Foundation and Design Driven City with the City of Helsinki’s Youth Department having the coordinative role. The project work started in February 2015 with much smaller resources than expected. Further into the project it has been noticed that there are also perks in being a small player. It has kept the project agile and forced us to search new partners and mates to work with.
From the start it was clear that we want to encourage doing over planning and move quickly from ideas to action. Alongside this, there are three main principles which have guided our work throughout the journey.
- The young people are an active part of the process of creating ideas and solutions.
- The objective of our small scale experiments is to create models that start to live a life of their own.
- We want to be bold and unprejudiced. We are not afraid to fail.
We have used design and its methods as a backbone for our way of thinking when tackling wicked problems concerning youth homelessness. Our most valuable resource, though, has been people who have always found fresh and inspirational viewpoints from which to start looking at things.
As odd as it may sound, It could be said that communication has been our major housing experiment. The core of our communication has been, and still is, to tell about small everyday things through pictures and stories and raise awareness about youth homelessness as a phenomenon in general but most importantly show how capable and competent the young are.
Alongside of Facebook we have used our web page, Design Driven City’s web page and Instagram as our digital platforms. Also the communication departments of the City of Helsinki and its Youth Department have been reporting about the project. Digital and social media need faces to function most effectively and thus it has been crucial that we have met young people in their own environments: in schools, educational establishments and places of free time activities.
Our project assumed international dimensions in 27.11.2015 when BBC made a piece of news about our cohousing experiment of the elderly and young adults. Later on at least Swedish SVT, American CNN, Taiwanese TVBS Networks and British radio Monocle have made a story about young people living in an assisted living facility for senior citizens. Also a video was published on Youtube by American Seeker Stories which was then seen by Australians working with old people’s care. That eventually led to an invite to speak in a seminar in October 2016.
13.4.2016 A Home that Fits received a recognition from The Finnish Youth Cooperation (Allianssi) which we are extremely proud of. We want to thank all the people from different age groups that have been working with us and made all this possible.
Summaries about our housing experiments
Combining work and housing
In the beginning of the year 2017 A home that fits started an experiment to combine work and housing in Kannelmäki. Four young people moved in two apartments and are going to work in the area as “good neighbours”. The young are required to work approximately 20 hours per month and will be paid 250 euros. The tasks are planned together with the young and at first the work will be carried out in four locations: a senior house and an assisted living facility nearby, the own house of the young and Kantsun olohuone (a resident café).
A home that fits has inspired the Homma himaan, which is one of the finalist teams in the Vuosisadan Rakentajat (Builders of the Century) challenge prize. Vuosisadan rakentajat is looking for ideas that improve young people’s wellbeing and enable them to participate in society more fully both now and in the future. Homma himaan team wants to support young people to find home and work. The idea is to develop a platform where it is possible to offer apartments for young people who could compensate part of their rent by work. Homma himaan wants to connect young people who are looking for apartments for reasonable price with the people who can offer these apertments. Homma himaan is one of the 15 finalist teams that were choose from the 326 applicants. Winners of the Vuosisadan rakentajat competition will be announced in October 2017.
Communal living in Kannelmäki
The experiment was conducted with Helsingin Kaupungin Asunnot Oy which manages most of the rental housing owned by the City of Helsinki. There was an empty space in Kannelmäki suburb with eleven rooms, shared kitchen and bathrooms and plenty of common area. Nine 18-25 year olds moved in and started planning their communal living. The experiment showcased a completely new form of rental housing within the City of Helsinki’s apartments.
Vartiosaari seasonal living
The last two summers a small group of young people have moved to the island of Vartiosaari where the City of Helsinki’s Youth Department has a summer activity center. The young are offered a free accommodation for the summer while doing renovation work in the activity center. They are also offered a chance to further their studies by getting credits from learning new things through working. The experiment is thus a mix of young people in a difficult housing situation getting work experience but also given advice in independent and communal living and the possibility to try new hobbies.
Cohousing of young people and the elderly in assisted living facility Rudolf
In the fall 2015 the assisted living facility Rudolf located on Laajasalo island in eastern Helsinki got three new residents: young adults. The experiment is done in cooperation with the City of Helsinki’s Department of Social Services and Health Care. The young are required to spend time with their senior neighbors 3-5 hours a week in exchange for a very reasonable rent. The main point is to be a good neighbor the young can decide which way is the most suitable for them. As stated, the experiment has been widely noticed inside Finland and all over the world.