Hrísey Island has received a regional development grant of ISK ten million, RÚV reports. The Áfram Hrísey (‘Onwards, Hrísey’) grant is intended to increase available housing and draw new residents to the island.
The island of Hrísey is located 35 km [22 mi] north of Akureyri and although small (approx. 7.67 km2 or 2.96 mi2), is known for its rich bird life. Forty species of birds make their home on Hrísey, with ptarmigans being particularly prolific. It is also home to the largest breeding colony of Arctic terns in Europe.
By comparison, however, only 200 people live on the island, and this is something that the grant seeks to address. “Right now, our most pressing issue is housing,” says resident Ásrún Ýr Gestsdóttir, who has been hired as the grant’s project manager. “We have people who want to move here, but we don’t have housing for them. We have a lot of houses, but almost half of them are empty for most of the month or the year.”
The grant will make it possible to accelerate the process of building new housing and drawing more people to the island full-time. “Up until now, almost everything has been done by volunteers here…we’ve just been doing it whenever possible, sending news to the media while eating dinner. Right now, there’s only one person submitting something for us and contacting the planning department in Akureyri and the town council and people we need to call.”
“We hope that when this project ends in spring 2024, we’ll have seen some progress,” says Ásrún Ýr. “That there will have been some construction and that more people will have moved here with either a permanent presence in our remote work center or even gotten started with something new, new employment opportunities.”