Home Town Helsinki and the Hitas: Affordable housing in Helsinki


Home Town Helsinki and the Hitas: Affordable housing in Helsinki

Mismatches Diversity
Policies and regulations Local policies Land
Promotion and production Public promotion Public-private partnerships
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

Helsinki, Finland, boasts one of the largest inventories of public land in Europe, enabling the city to pursue an ambitious long-term strategy aimed at fostering affordable housing. The objective is to cultivate mixed neighborhoods, incorporating various housing typologies—whether ownership, market rental, or social housing—provided by the public sector. To achieve this goal, Helsinki is actively collaborating with the construction industry and introducing innovative regulations, including the revitalization of the Hitas system and the introduction of the "company share" model.


  • 2016: Implementation


  • Helsinki City Hall


Continent: Europe
City: Helsinki
Country/Region: Finland, Helsinki


In 2016, the City of Helsinki introduced the "Home Town Helsinki" long-term policy aimed at fostering a diverse mix of housing to cater to various needs and life circumstances. A central objective was to cultivate mixed-tenure neighborhoods throughout the city, setting targets for both rented and owned housing production in regulated and unregulated markets. Out of the 6,000 dwellings generated annually, 25 percent are subsidized and regulated rental housing, while 30 percent are unsubsidized but subject to regulated ownership, ensuring price and quality control. Helsinki's substantial public land ownership, coupled with conditional land leases, enables the city to pursue its ambitious goals of affordable and inclusive housing.

With ownership of 70 percent of its land area, Helsinki plays a significant role in providing and advocating for affordable housing. The city boasts a portfolio of 60,000 housing units, with 48,500 government-subsidized for rental purposes. Most new housing developments occur on city-owned property, with the municipality directly producing 1,500 dwellings annually, including 750 units of subsidized rental housing.

Housing transactions on city-owned land operate under the "company share" model, applicable to both owner-occupied and subsidized flats. Under this model, the exchange involves trading the company share rather than the title to the land and housing, a process managed by the city.

Helsinki employs a distinctive approach to ensure that middle-income families can afford to reside in all neighborhoods, including the priciest ones. This approach, known as the "Hitas" system, aims to reduce housing costs on publicly owned land. Hitas homes, typically priced below market rates, have an upper limit on selling prices. These homes are situated on rental plots owned by the city. The pricing of units is based on actual production costs, with maximum prices regulated by the city. The selling price is established when the plot is assigned for construction, and subsequent sales must not exceed this maximum price. Allocation of Hitas units is through a lottery system. While owners incur lower monthly costs, they also pay land rent fees. This scheme proves effective in areas where market costs surpass production expenses. For builders in Helsinki, developing Hitas units on public lands is the sole viable option, ensuring guaranteed sales despite lower profits due to high demand.