Helsinki grows fast. The city’s average annual population growth has been more than one percent over the last 10 years. As a result, Helsinki is under pressure to build new housing and residential areas. Although Helsinki welcomes growth, it presents a challenge: population groups and areas can diverge.
Helsinki housing policies emphasize equality among residential areas, the creation of a distinctive character for each area, and resident wellbeing.
Helsinki is a good home for people and the shared living room of all citizens of Finland
Everyday life in Helsinki is functional: day care centres, schools and other services are close to home, public transport services are good, and residents can influence matters in their communities.
A growing city needs more housing. The City of Helsinki plays an important role in local housing policies. The City of Helsinki owns 70 percent of the city’s land area.
Helsinki’s goal is to build 7,000 new housing units annually. 40 percent of new housing is infill construction. Efforts are made to curb the rise in housing costs and to produce affordable rental housing.
A functional city is a densely built city with good public transport
Land use planning has a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions: dispersed communities have higher emissions. As a result, Helsinki seeks to increase density with zoning policies and to steer growth to areas served by public transport.
The Helsinki region has long traditions in regional land use, housing and transport planning. The region is estimated to be home to two million people in 2050. Joint planning can ensure smooth everyday life, functional public transport, affordable housing that meets people’s needs, and carbon neutrality. The region’s municipalities and the Finnish Government have a land use, housing and transport agreement that outlines development and cost sharing.
The City encourages housing innovations and experiments with a housing development programme meant to diversify housing production and to produce housing types that better meet resident needs and wishes.
Citizen wellbeing and dynamic communities are signs of successful urban development. Helsinki seeks to remain a model of regional policies that counter segregation, maintaining equality among city districts.
Housing policies play key roles in the prevention of segregation. Long-term residential planning in Helsinki is steered by The Home Town Helsinki Programme, which is updated once in every four years. An equal mix of housing types, defined in the programme, seeks to lessen and to prevent socioeconomic divergence among communities.
The “Helsinki mix” of housing is as follows: 25 percent of homes are ARA rental homes, that is, affordable rental housing owned by residential building corporations; 30 percent represent various ownership types that fall between rental and owner-occupied housing, such as right-of-occupancy and HITAS homes; and 45 percent are unregulated rental and owner-occupied homes. (HITAS is a housing price-and-quality control system used in Helsinki aimed at ensuring that housing prices are based on real production costs).
Divergence is countered with urban reform policies that emphasize older suburbs with declining and aging populations. Communities are re-energized with public investments and more housing. Furthermore, districts are developed with a mix of administrative policies including systemic solutions to prevent social exclusion and isolation.
Public participation fosters equality among communities and citizen wellbeing
Every community is served by a borough liaison, tasked to further citizen initiatives and to link local networks. Citizens are also encouraged to join participatory budgeting, whereby they can decide on the allocation of 4 million euros of Helsinki’s annual budget: citizens can propose uses for the money and vote on proposals, and the most popular proposals are implemented.
Some of Europe’s biggest new area development is underway in Helsinki
The Port of Helsinki relocated its cargo harbours from the inner city to Vuosaari in eastern Helsinki in 2008, which freed the harbours and industrial areas for redevelopment, comprising Jätkäsaari, Kalasatama and Kruunuvuorenranta. Other large new areas under construction include Pasila, Kuninkaantammi and Honkasuo. The new areas will be home to 100,000 people.
Dense and mixed communities provide a good foundation for urban lifestyles. All Helsinki districts provide opportunities to lead good everyday lives. They offer functional transport solutions, local services and opportunities for business.
Kalasatama is a new district under construction in Helsinki’s eastern inner city. This former harbour and industrial area is now home to 3,000 people. When complete by 2040, Kalasatama will have 25,000 residents and 10,000 jobs.
Kalasatama is a chic community just outside the Helsinki city centre. In the future, the area will be encircled by a seaside promenade. Kalasatama is a smart city district, serving as a piloting area for smart urban solutions.
Jätkäsaari is a new district on the south-western waterfront of Helsinki, overlooking the open sea. When complete, Jätkäsaari will be home to 21,000 people and provide 6,000 jobs. One-fifth of the 100-hectare land area will be green areas. Busy passenger port terminals provide the district with extra dynamism and offer fast connections to Tallinn and St Petersburg.
Kruunuvuorenranta is a residential district surrounded by nature but close to services. The area is characterized by magnificent outdoor and recreational opportunities and by light art. By 2030, Kruunuvuorenranta will have homes for 13,000 people and 800 jobs. Many homes and a seaside boulevard will overlook the inner city and the Suomenlinna islands across a water body.
Pasila is a transport hub north of the Helsinki city centre. The district has excellent connections to the city centre by several transport modes, as well as to the whole Finland by train. Ongoing transport development and major construction projects will render Pasila an increasingly prominent and dynamic hub. More than 47 million people per year are expected to pass through Pasila in the future. The volumes of housing and services are on a sharp increase.
The number of jobs in Pasila will double to 50,000 by 2040. The number of residents will nearly triple to 30,000.