Original residents are leaving Vantaas suburb of Hakunila
Immigrants now account for 16% of Hakunila population
INTERNATIONAL EDITION – METRO
November 23, 2009
Vantaas district of Hakunila is one of those residential areas with rental apartments that is receiving immigrants at an accelerating pace.
The growing numbers of foreigners aggravate the pioneers of Hakunila, in other words those families who resided in the district already when the suburb was under construction at the beginning of the 1970s.
They say that the spirit of community that once prevailed in Hakunila has ceased to exist, even when it comes to voluntary work in the shared yards.
Only once some children of an immigrant family came to rake up fallen leaves. Since then none of them has turned up, says Paula Sjblom, an ex-prison warder who lives in Hakunila.
Today Hakunila and a dozen or so other Finnish suburbs are becoming real immigrant districts at an accelerating tempo. Other suburbs gathering large numbers of people of foreign origin include Varissuo in Turku, Espoon Keskus in Espoo, and Helsinkis Meri-Rastila.
But what kind of districts are they turning into?
In other Nordic countries, including Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, there are areas where riots caused by frustrated immigrants often break out.
On the other hand, today in Stockholms district of Rinkeby the streets are clean and fairly safe, while life is peaceful, even though the area's density of residents of immigrant origin is as high as 89 %.
Another Swedish suburb, Rosengrd in Malm, where the proportion of immigrants is 94 %, has experienced plenty of vandalism and many riots, the most recent one being from 2007.
Some 62 % of Rosengrds working age residents are unemployed, and the blocks of rental flats are run-down, while a Danish criminal organisation is allegedly recruiting members in the district.
When it comes to Norway, Sndre Nordstrand is one of the poorest and least well-educated districts of Oslo, with the percentage of immigrant-origin residents being 41 %. There are more social problems in the district than in the Norwegian capital on average.
In Ydre Nrrebro in Copenhagen, the percentage of residents with an immigrant background is 50 %. The Danish city experienced major youth riots in 2006 and 2007 after the police had closed down a local youth centre. Prior to that, the city had youth riots already in the 1980s.
The basic reason for the development in these suburbs is attributable to the availability of cheap rental homes.
As it is easier for the Finnish-born residents to find jobs, they gradually become wealthier and move from rental apartments to owner-occuped flats.
At the same time, new immigrants, particularly refugees, are often granted a municipal rental unit – for example in Hakunila, where the share of residents with a foreign background has reached 16%. In Varissuo in Turku, the figure is twice as high at 34%.
There more than 40 nationalities are represented, including Kurds, Somalis, Iraqis, and Russians. There is high unemployment, but few signs of trouble.
Previously in HS International Edition:
 Immigrant workers are first to suffer from reduced employment opportunities in recession (31.7.2009)
 Helsinki finds housing of large Somali families challenging (17.11.2009)
 Many young immigrants would be eager to leave Finland (13.10.2009)
 Disabled immigrants in danger of marginalisation (22.9.2009)
 Proposed tightening of law on immigration generates mixed feelings in Parliament (18.11.2009)