Housing policy debate event in Helsinki: Shortage of affordable housing slows down economic growth in Helsinki Metropolitan Area

8 April 2015

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| Housing production is still lagging seriously behind population growth in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area despite the record rate of new homes being built. The last time migration to Helsinki was this intensive was in the mid-1960s. In Stockholm, London and New York housing prices have already been pushed beyond the reach of ordinary wage-earners. In Finland the housing problems of the capital region are still solvable. These solutions were discussed at an event organized by SATO in Helsinki on 8 April by a panel comprising Antero Levänen, Chief Human Resources Officer at HOK-Elanto, Anni Sinnemäki, City of Helsinki Deputy Mayor of Real Estate and City Planning, Anne Savolainen, City of Espoo Housing Manager, Paula Lehtomäki, MP (Finnish Centre Party), Paavo Arhinmäki, MP, Party Chairperson (Left Alliance), Kai Mykkänen, Director (National Coalition Party), Pilvi Torsti, Helsinki City Councillor, Chairperson of Helsinki Social Democrats (Social Democratic Party), Mika Niikko, MP (Finns Party), Tuomas Rantanen, Helsinki City Councillor (Green League), Björn Månsson, Helsinki City Councillor, Chair of Council Group (Swedish People’s Party), and Erkka Valkila, President and CEO, SATO. The Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto (HOK-Elanto) has more than 6,000 employees. According to Chief Human Resources Officer Levänen, the biggest shortage of housing in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is seen in small apartments with good transport links that cost around €500 a month. Deputy Mayor Sinnemäki emphasised the importance of rail transport in the increasingly dense urban construction setting, while City of Espoo Housing Manager Savolainen hoped to see a long-term approach in housing policy. Helsinki City Councillor Rantanen pointed out the need to take into account the diversity of residents from families with children to the elderly and called for innovations for new types of housing, such as communal housing. - There’s space but there are no designated plots of land, he summarised. A variety of solutions was offered to increase housing supply, but shared thoughts were also found. Helsinki City Councillor Månsson would like to promote the conversion of offices into homes. Member of Parliament Arhinmäki proposed that the government should assume a larger role in housing development. All panellists excluding Member of Parliament Niikko were ready to continue the gradual reduction of support to owner-occupied housing. Director Mykkänen was even prepared to speed up the discontinuation of the government interest subsidy for housing loans. Helsinki City Councillor Torsti believes in continued strong growth in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. She called for an urban policy view where housing and transport are taken into account. According to Member of Parliament Lehtomäki, growth in the capital region should be moderate. SATO President and CEO Erkka Valkila hoped to see a carrot offered by decision-makers to rental housing providers: - The current stick model has ground private, affordable rental housing construction to a total halt. The housing situation would be eased by measures such as the loosening of land use plan regulations. He underlined the need for cooperation and interaction: - The only way for us to resolve the housing policy issues is through open-minded discussions and new types of solutions. For more information contact: SATO Corporation Monica Aro, Director, Customer Relationships and Communications phone +358 400 458 309 . |
| Photos by Jukka Mykkänen. Name must be cited: _MG_2971.jpg _MG_3438.jpg |