301 People are Homeless in Reykjavík, Mostly Men

downtown Reykjavík

Data from a new City of Reykjavík report shows there are 301 people experiencing homelessness in the city. The figure is a decrease from previous years. Most, or 71%, are men while women are 29% and the majority is between 21-49 years of age. Most homeless people utilise housing resources provided by the city but eight do not. The chairperson of the City’s Welfare Council stated more must be done to meet the needs of that group.

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Reykjavík has dropped by 14% since the last count was carried out in 2017. While men make up 71% of homeless people in the city, around 10% are foreign nationals (most also men). Just over half lives in utilises registered housing for the homeless or long-term support housing and around one third stays in short-term emergency housing.

“While it’s of course not happy news to see that there are still 300 people in the city that are considered to be in this group that is homeless, nevertheless they have decreased in number,” stated Heiða Björg Hilmisdóttir, City of Reykjavík Welfare Council chairperson. “It’s good to see that about half of those people are in permanent or temporary housing. That is really our biggest project and policy, to find ways to reach people who are in that situation and find ways to get people into permanent housing.”

Read More: Door to Door Search to Determine Scope of Unsafe Housing

Eight people are currently living out in the open in poor conditions, without any form of shelter that can be called housing. “During this term we made a change so that no one is turned away from emergency shelters due to lack of space. But there are some people who do not consider [the emergency shelters] to meet their needs or don’t trust them. Of course, the project is to find a solution,” Heiða stated.

How Many People in Iceland are Homeless?

homelessness in reykjavík

Unfortunately, Statistics Iceland has not released statistics on homelessness across Iceland since 2011, when they conducted a census which found there were 761 homeless inhabitants of the country. Of that group, 111 were “primary homeless,” meaning living on the street or in similar conditions, while 650 were “secondary homeless,” or moving between temporary shelters such as friends’ homes, emergency accommodation, and hostels. The majority of homeless people were male and were located in the Reykjavík capital region.

“It is difficult to gather accurate information about homeless people,” Statistician Ómar Harðarson from Statistics Iceland told IR. “We did it in connection with the 2011 census due to international obligations to report them. These requirements will not be as strict in the future and therefore it is unclear whether we will make a similar effort.”

The City of Reykjavík, however, released a report in 2021 that found 301 people were experiencing homelessness in the city. This is a decrease of 14% since 2017. According to data from the report, 71% of the individuals were men, and 29% were women, and most were between 21 and 49 years of age. Just over half were living in temporary or long-term housing provided by the city, while around one-third stayed in emergency shelters. Eight people were living in the open, with no shelter that could be considered housing. City authorities agreed that more needed to be done to meet the needs of this group.

Fossvogur Bridge to Be Completed in 2024

Fossvogur bridge Borgarlína

The winning design of a new bridge that will connect Reykjavík and Kópavogur municipalities across the Fossvogur inlet has been revealed, RÚV reports. The bridge will be completed in 2024 and will not be open to private vehicles, rather will be exclusively dedicated to public transport vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. The winning design was completed by Icelandic company Efla Consulting Engineers in collaboration with UK-based BEAM Architects.

“The winning proposal provides for a bridge with a rapid cycling lane, for those who want to cross quickly, there are lanes for public transport and the Borgarlína rapid bus transit line in the middle, and on the other side there is a path for those who want to walk or cycle more slowly,” explained Bryndís Friðriksdóttir, regional manager of capital area projects at the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

The bridge, named Alda (e. Wave) is part of an ambitious 15-year transport plan for the Reykjavík capital area that includes the development of a rapid bus transit line, called Borgarlína. Alda is the first major construction project associated with the new transit system. “It’s part of what we call the first phase of Borgarlína, which is the Borgarlína route that runs from Hamraborg to the city centre and connects Reykjavík University, the University of Iceland, and the National Hospital, and then onward from the city centre along Suðurlandsbraut up to Ártúnshöfði so it’s a big part of getting Borgarlína and the new bus system up and running,” Bryndís stated.

The full cost of the bridge is yet to be determined, but Bryndís says the next step will be to examine costs it in detail. It will be funded by the transport agreement between the state and capital area municipalities. The Borgarlína website shows a video simulation of the completed bridge. Read more about the Borgarlína project.