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Finland and affordable housing

The lack of affordable housing in the U.S. is widespread and a growing concern. Finland might provide a model on how to resolve this problem. The  Finnish constitution grants all citizens the right to “indispensable subsistence and care.” We have the promise in our constitution that our government will “promote the general welfare.” 

In Finland, they view housing as a human right. Every Finn has a right to a place to live. As new developments are built, no less than 25 percent of all new units must be affordable. All new area development is planned and built in stages, avoiding entire areas becoming building sites. New apartment buildings are designed to avoid conformity, have play areas, athletic fields and small parks. Trees are considered essential. Throughout Finland, 10-year master planning is the norm. In its largest city, Helsinki, housing is socially mixed. Non-government agencies such as the Salvation Army cooperate. Helsinki’s Salvation Army shelter transformed from a 250 bed facility to 81 independent apartments providing security and a feeling of home.

Once a person has a fixed domain, it is easier and less expensive to provide services for those with problems like drug use, alcoholism or mental illness. Finland’s head of the national Housing First Movement, Juha Kaakinen, observed that success in dealing with social needs “demands politicians who have an understanding of human dignity.” Finns live in one of the safest countries in the world, low crime rates in urban areas and crime virtually unknown in rural Finland. Cooperative capitalism has made Finland one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

Ron Jarvella


Everyone part of climate solution

Thanks to BDN for highlighting the story “Portland is a ‘heat island,’ and it’s only getting hotter” on July 15. Heat can be deadly. Climate change is upon us in so many ways, yet extreme heat is responsible for more weather-related deaths in the U.S. in an average year than any other hazard, including tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes or lightning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And it is getting hotter.

Heat waves come as a surprise all over. One in Europe in 2003 killed as many as 70,000 people, for example. Another in Russia was responsible for 56,000 deaths in 2010. What’s to be done? We need to cut carbon emissions fast. Carbon pricing can do that.

Please write or call Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to insist that they include carbon pricing as the major climate policy in the infrastructure bill coming up shortly. It is expected to pass the Senate by reconciliation.

Carbon pricing will extend throughout the economy. It is not just another “gas tax.” Manufacturers will bring products to stores near you that are cheaper when renewable energy has been used in their creation and transport. Rising carbon prices will be the incentive. And, following proposals already in Congress, each of us will receive a dividend check (like our COVID-19 checks) to either switch to cheaper renewables or pay the rising price, your choice. We all need to be part of the solution.

Peter Garrett


Can’t wait for I-395 extension

It seems we hear only from those who oppose the Interstate 395 connector project, while the rest of us who live here can’t wait for the relief this will bring for our town.

Traffic engineers have inexplicably reduced Route 1A in Holden, one of the busiest roads in the state, to a two-lane road, and once the border opens and tourist traffic to Canada resumes, 20-mile-an-hour congestion and frequent crashes will only grow worse. Let this project begin!

Diane Smith