This was a good morning.
Mirva woke up, took care of the morning activities and ate weetabix for breakfast, as always.
- For a long time, the pig was in a good mood, Mirva, 48, says.
- Yesterday I cleaned the room really nicely.
It was quite a lot of laundry to be scythe.
I got them put in the closet.
I'm really proud of myself.
Mirva lives in a housing unit for the homeless in Helsinki.
Mirva is not his real name.
It is not easy to talk about homelessness in public.
Mirva's room has a bed, table, wardrobe and a small refrigerator on behalf of the house.
She herself has brought Grandma's old chest of drawers there.
The sister bought a flat screen TV, but Mirva got so hooked on the crime series that they started coming to sleep.
Watching had to stop.
Sister helps Mirva a lot anyway.
The housing unit is in many ways better than the street, but it is not your own home.
It is inhabited temporarily.
Mirva thinks the good thing is that she has her own room.
- There is no man in it, no need to fear violence, the goods remain safe and themselves intact.
So much mold has been stolen on the street.
It’s damn stressful not knowing where to go the next night.
But Mirva needs her own toilet, kitchen and - peace.
- The group is quite varied, and people come straight from Hietaniemi and the street.
The going is pretty sparse and restless.
I don't even like the food there.
Still, everyday life is now much better than just over a year ago.
Then Mirva was out on the streets and I ended up exhausted.
- For the last three years, I complained about bags and I was in the corners of friends.
Hermann's church also had to stay overnight, and there had to be frequent visits to Kalkkerss.
Then, with the help of an acquaintance, Mirva got a place in the current housing unit.
- I would have taken anything else as a Christmas present.
But even this is better than nothing.
When you are on the street, you have to think about a place to stay all the time.
It affects everything.
- It's damn stress when you don't know where to go the next night.
And that carrying bags.
I can't stand it.
I was so out before I came here.
When you don’t have your own home or even a place to sleep, being is a drift.
And then it’s pulled by stuff, Mirva says.
- I'm more than full of throat.
It’s about living in an instant, something quite shocking.
The women's living room is free to rest. Photo: Piia Arnould
In the summer, Mirva started methadone replacement therapy.
It changed everyday life, brought rhythm to it.
- I stopped using Subutex for 16 years.
I have a pretty good pig feeling when I finished injecting.
No need to stress, you wouldn’t get injected.
On weekdays, Mirva is treated daily at a substance abuse clinic.
For the time being, he's doing quite a bit during the day.
Mirva also visits day care centers, the Women's Living Room for homeless women in Töölö and the Green Oasis next door.
- I go to the Women's Lounge whenever it's open.
It's absolutely awesome.
The employees are wonderful.
In the women's group you can chat.
I get a lot out of it, it’s something just amazing.
There is also access to a sauna.
- The green oasis has a day of prayer and bingo.
There you get morning porridge, sometimes even food.
Then if you need help with doing some things, they will help.
There are no drugs, but substitutes are allowed to come.
Going to the oasis brings a sense of calm.
Sometimes Mirva goes to the sauna with a friend or in the village with her sister.
The proportion of women has increased
A person living in the corners of others or in temporary accommodation, such as a housing unit, is considered homeless.
According to the Housing Finance and Development Center Ara, at the end of 2019 there were 4,600 single homeless people in Finland.
Of these, 1,190 were women. Although the number of homeless women has decreased in recent years, their share of the homeless has increased in the 21st century.
More than half of all homeless people in Finland are in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Homeless women visit the Women's Living Room in Töölö, for example, maintained by the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
It is a day center for women only.
A woman coming to the women’s living room gets warm food, the opportunity to take a shower or sauna, put on clean underwear and be able to rest if necessary.
In winter, the distribution also includes warm winter jackets and shoes.
Once the basics are in order, it’s up to the rest of the help.
The employee finds out how the woman can and what kind of help she needs.
Is the woman completely unprotected or in danger of being completely on the street soon?
Is emergency accommodation, disconnection treatment, or perhaps both needed?
According to the Blue Ribbon Foundation, there may be dozens of women on the streets in Helsinki.
The so-called hidden homeless, ie significantly more people staying in the corners or accommodation units of others.
According to Ara's statistics, 68 per cent of Finland's homeless people stay temporarily with acquaintances or relatives.
About 16 per cent of the homeless live in dormitories, accommodation or other establishments, and 16 per cent of the homeless also live outdoors, in stairwells or primary shelters.
Help starts with basic needs.
In the women's living room you can do laundry. Photo: Piia Arnould
There is rarely only one clear reason for homelessness.
The apartment coming from the women's living room has often gone a long time ago.
For example, there may have been too high a rent, life management problems, alcohol and drugs.
Some even go to work.
A victim of domestic violence may have ended up on the street from a shelter, or a woman released from prison may be left empty-handed in a civilian.
The woman may be left homeless, for example in connection with a divorce, says Inka Kasurinen, who worked until December on a project to prevent female homelessness at the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
- A child is often separated from a woman.
For example, if a mother has a substance abuse problem, child protection will help the woman to a certain point.
If a child is taken into custody, this assistance often ends and the apartment may leave.
The apartment may also have gone because a resident with a foreign background may not have understood what can be done in a Finnish rental home, or have not received help with payment difficulties due to language problems.
- Homelessness is not only caused by one's own choices, Kasurinen states.
The relationship ended, the home went
The last time Mirva had her own home was four years ago.
There he lived with the father of his youngest child.
When the relationship ended, the apartment also went.
It was owned by the parents of the ex-spouse.
- Before that, I gave up the apartment in the city of Helsinki.
Mom said it was the stupid act you've done.
But what has not been done must not be done.
Mirva says she used drugs at the age of 17.
- I've done what amuses me.
- My father was such a tough guy that I wouldn't even burn logs if he was still alive.
When Dad died, it was such a loss to me.
I was in sixth grade.
I have flipped at that point.
When Mirva's phone rings, the ringing tone is the child's clear speech.
Mirva has three children.
Two of them are already adults and live on their own.
The youngest lives in a family home.
Of her older children, Mirva meets another.
The last time they saw it was in the summer.
- I've been really honest and open.
He knows everything about my life.
I have been mediated condition, your call and we'll see.
The last time he was seen, he put in afterwards a message that was wonderful to see.
Thank you mom, you looked really good, she said.
Mirva shows a picture of her cell phone with her pit in the movies.
It was the newest Risto Räppääjä.
Fear manifests itself as hardness
Being constantly on the move is hard for anyone.
According to Kasurinen, the problems of “hidden homeless” staying with acquaintances or relatives are often not as visible or bad as those who sleep outside.
- If you are completely on the street, there is either drug addiction or mental health problems.
I have never met a homeless person who would not have either, Kasurinen says.
Homelessness is particularly severe for women.
- If a woman walks alone at night, even in Kamppi, it is at the mercy of others.
The woman's position on the street is really weak, Kasurinen says.
The risk of violence, sexual harassment and being robbed is constantly present, especially if the woman is physically small.
Winter jackets and shoes are waiting for new users. Photo: Piia Arnould
Even goods may not be able to be kept safe.
If money or cards cannot be kept, there is no financial sovereignty.
Then it is at the mercy of others.
According to Kasurinen, the feeling of insecurity is often reflected in harsh behavior in women.
- The fear they have is quite tangible.
It manifests itself in hardness, roles, and a denial that nothing hurts me.
Few women are as strong as they threaten.
Mirva says she has never had to do things she would not have wanted in the hope of a place to stay.
- I know so many people.
I don't have to say that.
I like my side.
If I got on top of random, I'm hard of my mouth.
Mirva has had to hear the drag, until she got tired.
You have to learn to live
According to Kasurinen, the problem in the Helsinki metropolitan area is not to have housing.
They are just too expensive.
- Housing support is only available up to a certain amount of euros.
What if it's not enough if the apartment is even too big?
If even 50 euros of rent are not paid every month, the rent debt is easily accrued.
If all sorts of things happen to yourself in the same fall, the problem may be over.
Because homelessness rarely has only one cause, even housing does not automatically solve other human problems.
If you have lived on the fringes of society for a long time, you may not have the basic skills to live and manage other lives.
They need to be taught.
- Everyone needs a home and security, but also the abilities to be in their own home.
Adequate support is needed so that it is safe for the neighbors as well.
Clean clothes are distributed in the women's living room. Photo: Piia Arnould
In Finland, homelessness organizations follow the so-called housing first principle.
That means your own home can be everyone’s first step toward a better life, and sobriety is not a requirement for getting an apartment.
According to the principle, a person with severe substance abuse or mental health problems can also make ends meet in an ordinary rental apartment if he or she only receives the right kind of support for his or her housing.
An alcoholic or drug addict is also entitled to a home.
- If you can get back to life through an apartment, it can still take years to learn to live in this society.
There may be traumas, fears, debts in the background, children may be in custody.
A wide range of help is needed.
According to Kasurinen, there is enough help available, at least in big cities.
The second question is whether help finds a person.
- For example, in emergency accommodation, the units are large in order to provide services.
Does the customer face the right kind of support and help?
The units are so large that support may not get over the guys.
We are all equal.
It may also be that not all problems even arise, even if one gets access to some kind of help.
Shame may prevent you from telling everything about your situation, and things can get worse.
- substance abuse work, I noticed that the man is not so shameful, if you have been sitting in prison and the children have been taken into custody.
For a man it is a great heroic story, for a woman it is a disgrace, even though it is heroic to survive such a life at all.
According to Kasurinen, substance abuse and mental health services should be better offered.
Discontinuation therapy should be accessed faster, there should be more non-drug treatments.
Debt counseling and help with practical matters are needed.
- I hope for a better understanding of the mental health problems and traumas that arise when living on the streets.
I don’t think very many of us can live that kind of life without trauma.
Wish your own peace
Mirva dreams that the goods could be carried to the right home as soon as possible.
The nerve returns sensitively in the dormitory.
Mirva hopes that she would not have to go to the bathroom in outdoor shoes.
That would be your own kitchen where no one else would mess up.
That no one would shout in the middle of the night.
That one should be at peace and live the ordinary life of an ordinary woman.
- I would like my own home so that I can start getting to know that middle child again.
I would like to start doing something good dune.
I have been told that black would become a good narrator.
I could go tell young people why drugs shouldn’t be used.
They take everything, kids, just about everything.
Nothing is left.
Mirva feels that drug users, for example, are treated “like animals” in a doctor and are not taken seriously.
It should come to an end.
- We are all equal.
Shortly before Christmas, Mirva has news.
He has moved to another housing unit.
There is a private toilet that does not need to be shared with anyone.
On the phone, he says the new place is wonderfully peaceful.
It's going to be your own home, it could be a small one bedroom apartment.
At least Mirva would put green plants there.
He should always keep the house tidy.