Higher education students of the Capital Region have managed to get one of their most important objectives in city politics through: the number of new student apartments in Helsinki will begin to increase. In its meeting on Monday 6 June 2016, the City Board of Helsinki has decided to increase the annual production goal of student apartments to 300 apartments. Increasing the quota has been an initiative pushed by the students of the Capital Region’s World Student Capital network. It has also been the network’s main objective in Helsinki municipal politics throughout early 2016.
Currently, there simply are not enough student apartments in Helsinki for everyone because of their high demand. Only 26% of higher education students in Helsinki live in student apartments, with 4,000 students queueing for an apartment right now. Moreover, homelessness among youth has doubled in Helsinki during the years of 2005–2014 (Kvartti 1/2016, in Finnish).
– The City Board’s decision improves students’ standing on the housing market. It is great to see that the city has now taken note of students’ worries and preparatory work, Chair of the WSC network Andrey Veremenko acknowledges.
The biggest reasons for students’ dire housing situation in the Capital Region are the steep prices and low availability of apartments. Students are in a particularly vulnerable position on the private housing market because of their low income levels, as they are not able to compete with money. The apartments of the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (Hoas) are one third cheaper than in the privately financed rental apartments of the largest property owners – while the increases in the amount of rent for student and youth apartments has also been the most moderate.
The WSC network is also especially pleased to see the quotas for student and youth apartments being separated from each other as a result of the City Board’s decision. While the upper age limit in youth apartments is 29 years, student apartments are meant for full-time students of all ages. International students, too, are very interested in Hoas’ apartments. This decision helps them adjust to life in Helsinki: their lack of knowledge of the local, foreign language and the local system often makes it too hard for them to operate on the private housing market.
The City Board’s decision supports students’ position as the group that really revitalise and develop the city. Hoas has the courage to build in and bring students into parts of the city that are new and unfinished and where other actors have not yet begun construction.
After the City Board has processed the housing and land use implementation programme, it will go to the City Council for approval 15 June.
Member of the HYY Board, Responsible for Communications in the World Student Capital Network
050 595 0318
The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY)