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.

Beloved Cinema Bíó Paradís Reopens on Friday

Rekjavík indie movie theatre Bíó Paradís is reopening this Friday, following several months of closure and a The cinema had officially closed its doors on May 1 and laid off its staff after an approaching rent hike and the COVID-19 pandemic had put its existence in jeopardy. Thanks to support from the City of Reykjavík and the Ministry of Culture, the cinema is now reopening – and according to its Managing Director, it’s better than ever.

“This is Paradise like you’ve never seen it before,” Hrönn Sveinsdóttir, Bíó Paradís’ managing director told Fréttablaðið. Since the theatres’ closure in May, Hrönn has been working day and night to complete much-needed renovations to the cinema, alongside staff and an army of volunteers. “People have been showing up here, no joke, to do volunteer work, over and over and over. Weekend after weekend. People just show up. It’s amazing. We ourselves have of course been working day and night. None of us has taken a summer vacation and we have been working most weekends since the theatre was closed in March in order to try and make this a reality.” Bíó Paradís now boasts new projection screens, a new projector, and a new bar, alongside countless other fixes and upgrades to its ventilation system, washrooms, and more.

Today is the cinema’s 10th anniversary, and when it opens on Friday, there will be no shortage of films to celebrate the milestone. This weekend’s programming features four premieres and Icelandic Documentary Film Festival Skjaldborg. The festival is normally held in Patreksfjörður in the Westfjords, and Hrönn points out that this year presents a unique opportunity for capital area residents to attend. “Skjaldborg is in my opinion the most fun film festival in the world. It’s more fun than Cannes… no one should let themselves miss it!”