The Reykjavík City Welfare Committee has decided to open a shelter for homeless men at Njálsgata 74 in downtown Reykjavík by October 1 despite objections from residents in the neighborhood.
“A group made up of representatives from the Welfare Committee and those in opposition to the shelter found no solution, so the Welfare Committee decided to end the debate this way,” head of the committee Jórunn Frímannsdóttir told Morgunbladid.
Frímannsdóttir said the committee would still take the residents’ objections into account by only housing eight homeless men in the shelter instead of ten as originally planned. The inhabitants will be selected from a group of men willing to change their lives for the better and Njálsgata residents do not need to be afraid of them, she added.
Frímannsdóttir said there is a severe lack of shelters for homeless people in Reykjavík; about 40 to 60 men live on the city’s streets, and said she hoped people would be more accepting of such shelters in the future.
Pétur Svavarsson, one of two representatives of Njálsgata residents in the group which was supposed to find a solution to the debate, said he was deeply disappointed in the Welfare Committee’s decision.
Svavarsson said a meeting had been scheduled with Mayor of Reykjavík Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjálmsson so the group’s conclusions could be presented to him, but before the meeting could take place the Welfare Committee made a decision on their own.
The lawyer representing the residents of Njálsgata has reached the conclusion that establishing a homeless shelter in their neighborhood is illegal.
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