Four years ago, Thomas Salmi was drinking to forget. He was homeless and living on the streets of Finland’s capital city Helsinki.
He had a rough start in life. He wasn’t able to live at home because his father had problems with aggression. He ended up going to nine different children’s homes, before falling through the cracks of the system in his late teens. By 21 he was homeless. “I lost the sense of a normal life. I became depressed, aggressive, angry and I abused alcohol a lot.” He would drink up to half a gallon a day and then get into trouble. “I thought why would I care if I go to jail? I don’t have to be out there in snow and cold.”
Salmi is a beneficiary of Finland’s much-lauded “housing first” approach, which has been in place for more than a decade.