West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street travels to Finland to see how they are tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.

Homelessness and rough sleeping is a growing problem in the Midlands. In a special report for BBC Midlands Today, West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street travelled to Finland – thought to be the only country in Europe where homelessness is falling – to see how they appear to have virtually eradicated the problem.

The BBC report asks whether such a project would be viable in the UK and will be broadcast during BBC Midlands Today on Tuesday 14 November at 6.30pm.

The scheme called Homeless First was implemented in 2008 and within eight years had taken 1500 long term homeless off the streets and put them into permanent low cost housing with individually tailored support.

Mayor, Andy Street tells the programme: “We have got to be realistic about this. This can’t be about a sticking plaster. This has been a very serious commitment on behalf of the Finnish state and the city of Helsinki. We have got to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared to make a similar commitment?”

The scheme has cost 240 million Euros over eight years but is said to have saved the country money in the process.

He added: “They have invested big time in building communities and put trust in people and we have got to reflect as to whether we can be similarly ambitious. But there’s a lot to reflect on because they have achieved something really outstanding here.”

The West Midlands Combined Authority – covering Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton – is expected to be confirmed as the three year pilot area for Housing First in the UK later this month.