Finland: Young renters offered cheap flats at care home

  • 27 November 2015
A file photo of elderly people in a care home playing Lotto Image copyright AFP
Image caption Young people can bring variety to an older person's day, Miki Mielonen says

Helsinki is offering young people the chance to rent a cheap apartment in an old people's home, if they agree to spend time socialising with the elderly residents.

The city council is seeking applications from renters under the age of 25 who will commit to spending between three and five hours each week with their older neighbours, at a care home in the eastern Laajasalo district. In exchange, they'll get a studio flat measuring 23 sq m (248 sq ft) with a private kitchen, bathroom and balcony for 250 euros (£176) per month, public broadcaster Yle reports.

Currently only three flats are available, but the scheme is part of a wider effort to tackle a lack of accommodation for young people in the capital. Ordinarily a studio costs about 600 euros a month, depending on the area, one local university advises.

Those who apply don't need any specific care experience. "There are staff to look after the elderly," project manager Miki Mielonen tells Yle. "We are looking for young people who maybe have a different perspective on everyday life, who will bring variety and recreation to the elderly residents."

More than 60 people have applied for the spaces in less than a week, and the idea has also been warmly welcomed by Finns on social media. "Great project, hopefully it will spread to other areas," writes one person on Facebook, while another applauds the scheme for bringing different generations together. But some wish it was open to more people, with one user saying: "It's a shame the flats are so small. It would have been nice if the elderly had a small family with children or a single parent as their neighbour." And one person is disappointed about the cut-off age, writing: "Shame I'm too old for this - I would have definitely applied."

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