Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has travelled to Finland on a fact-finding mission as part of his pledge to tackle homelessness.
He visited the Finnish capital Helsinki to see for himself how a scheme called Homeless First is operating in what is thought to be the only country in Europe where the problem is falling.
Homeless First was implemented in 2008 and within eight years had taken 1,500 long term homeless off the streets and put them into permanent low cost housing with individually tailored support.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street meets a beneficiary of the Homeless First scheme in Helsinki. (Picture: BBC Midlands Today).
It provides them with a permanent stable home rather than pushing them towards temporary hostels or shelters, and works to help them get their lives back on track before they become afflicted by issues such as addiction.
With homelessness and rough sleeping a growing problem in the Midlands, Mr Street has pledged to making the issue a priority in his term of office.
He said: “We have got to be realistic about this. This can’t be about a sticking plaster. This has been a very serious commitment on behalf of the Finnish state and the city of Helsinki.
“We have got to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to make a similar commitment?”
The scheme has cost 240 million Euros over eight years but is said to have saved the country money in the process.
The Mayor added: “They have invested big time in building communities and put trust in people and we have got to reflect as to whether we can be similarly ambitious.
“But there’s a lot to reflect on because they have achieved something really outstanding here.”
Mr Street was accompanied by BBC Midlands Today on his Helsinki trip. Click here to see their report.