Emergency Shelters Not Able to Cope with High Numbers of Unhoused People Skip to content
homelessness in reykjavík
Photo: Golli. A homeless shelter on Lindargata.

Emergency Shelters Not Able to Cope with High Numbers of Unhoused People

Hrafnhildur Ólöf Ólafsdóttir, nurse and head of the City of Reykjavík working group on homelessness, has stated in a recent interview with RÚV that following a large increase in the use of homeless shelters in the last two years, the system can no longer cope with the large demand placed on it.

According to the latest information from the Welfare Council, some 87 women and 214 men remain unhoused in Reykjavík. 30% of this group use emergency shelters, with around another 50% in residential facilities.

Read More: No Daytime Shelter for Homeless Men

Hrafnhildur stated to RÚV that the crisis had many causes: “It’s connected to many factors, especially the housing and rental market, and reduced access now to guesthouses, hotels, and hostels, which we had access to during the pandemic.

Emergency shelters in Reykjavík are now consistently at and above their limits, compared with 2021 where utilization of shelters sat between 60-80%, and in 2020, when it sat around 30-50%.

Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that around a third of Reykavík’s unhoused come from other municipalities.

Hrafnhildur stated: “It’s not that people are choosing to come to Reykjavík, we are simply the only municipality that offers these services. Other resources need to be developed and allocated elsewhere, too.”

See our Ask Iceland Review on homelessness in Iceland for more information.



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