Photo: Pekka Elomaa

Everyone has the right to have their own home. This right is safeguarded by, for example, the Constitution of Finland and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Developing individual living solutions for people with intellectual disabilities is one of FAIDD’s key areas of action.

Most people with intellectual disabilities within the service system live in group housing, even though many of them would want to live in their own home. Studies, reports and development projects on housing for special needs groups have shown that most of the people who belong in these groups would like to live just like anyone else. Most people with intellectual disabilities dream of living in their own flat, as independently as possible.

Of the Finnish people with intellectual disabilities aged 18 or over 12 000 live in housing units. Around 9000 persons live with their families and around the same number live independently. Around one thousand persons live in units of elderly care and health care centers. There are altogether around 31 000 adult persons with intellectual disabilities in Finland.

In Finland the municipalities are responsible for organizing housing services for people with intellectual disabilities.

FAIDD’s perspectives to the housing challenge

1. Institutions are not homes for anyone

According to the Government program concerning housing for people with intellectual disabilities, by 2020 no person with intellectual disability will be living in the old long-term residential institutions. The deinstitutionalization process has got off on a good start throughout Finland, but the solutions applied to reach the goal have been too one-dimensional. The construction of housing has mainly meant the construction of group homes for 15 or more residents.

In addition to constructing new housing we also need more individual flats for people with intellectual disabilities from the ordinary housing supply.

2. Versatile housing alternatives are needed

The municipalities should offer different housing alternatives and not just housing based on group residencies. There is no form of housing that would suit everyone; instead, we need alternatives that take into consideration people’s individual wishes and needs. New means can be found for organizing the support people with intellectual disability need to live in their own chosen way.

3. People with intellectual disabilities have the right to choose and make decisions

People with intellectual disabilities have the right to make real choices and decisions regarding their housing, supportive systems and the people they live with. They also have the right to be heard when it comes to staff choices. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a person with a disability has the right to decide where and with whom she or he lives.

The starting point in the choice of type of housing and supportive services should always be the individual needs of the person involved. Other important aspects besides type of housing and the living environment include personalized support and services that enable individuals to live in a way that suits them best personally.

FAIDD supports individual housing solutions:

  • We offer information and support regarding housing.
  • We develop together with our partners new ways of organizing housing and services.
  • We influence political decision making and the preparation of legislation.
  • We train employees and managers on questions concerning housing.