From Iceland — Emergency Measures Extended For Homeless Women

Emergency Measures Extended For Homeless Women

Published August 19, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Welfare Departement of the City of Reykjavík has announced that it will extend emergency measures for homeless women in Iceland.

The decision was made in response to a statement published by eight homeless women who protested the planned closure of an emergency solution, due to COVID-19, that had allowed them to stay at the women’s shelter Konukot for 24 hours instead of from 17:00 to 10:00.

In their statement, the women had described their struggles and how having a constant place to stay, all be it because of a pandemic, had changed their circumstances significantly and allowed them to regain some footing.

The initial emergency measure had been established by the City of Reykjavík and the Ministry of Social Affairs back in April and was set to run out by the end of next month.

According to the city statement, the women are guaranteed continued housing for the next three months, while more permanent solutions will be sought out.

Additionally, in order to guarantee enough room to adhere to social distancing rules, such as keeping a distance of two meters to others, a decision was made to divide the group into Konukot and a new resort, so that there would be enough room for each woman.

According to the city’s statement, the Welfare Department is currently in talks with the owner of the building about continued short-term operations and has received approval for continued financial contributions from the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Heiða Björg Hilmisdóttir, chairman of the Welfare Council, is quoted in the statement saying, “It is the policy of the City of Reykjavík to assist the women who live in the shelter to become independent residents, and this is now being worked on hard.”

The Welfare Council recently agreed to establish a new halfway home for women, and the matter was referred to the City Council. The City of Reykjavík currently operates three emergency shelters for homeless people, Konukot and the hostels on Lindargata and Grandagarður. Allegedly, work is also underway to install twenty small houses, which are supposed to benefit women who are currently homeless, to purchase more apartments and to strengthen a field and consultancy team.

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