It will be months before all residents of the Southwest Iceland town of Grindavík can return home. Iceland’s government held a press conference at 11:30 AM this morning to present an action plan on housing support for the town’s residents, who were evacuated from their homes on November 10 amid powerful earthquakes and the threat of a volcanic eruption.
Financial support and rental apartments
Grindavík residents will receive financial support to help them cover rent payments on temporary housing. The amount of support will be based on the number of people in each household. Rental company Bríet will buy up to 150 apartments on the market in order to make them available to displaced Grindavík residents, and rental company Bjarg will buy up to 60 specifically intended for lower-income households.
A working group is also exploring the possibility of importing housing units. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir says that housing support measures will be discussed in Parliament next week. Katrín stated that she expects a bill on financial support for Grindavík residents to be passed next week as well.
Utilities infrastructure to determine when residents can return
When Grindavík residents will be permitted to return home depends on the state of the town’s utilities infrastructure, some of which was damaged by powerful earthquakes earlier this month. Grindavík municipal authorities are to have the state of utilities infrastructure assessed. It is possible that residents will be permitted to move back into the town in stages, as the amount of damage varies between districts.
The town remains under an evacuation order for the time being. While the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management have lowered their emergency phase to a danger phase, experts say there is still a possibility of volcanic eruption in the area. The most likely location of an eruption is currently considered to be near Hagafell mountain, northeast of Grindavík.