Homeless People in Aarhus Deserve Longlasting Solutions

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By Thomas Medom

Alderman, Social Affairs and Employment, municipality of Aarhus

Aarhus is to be a city where there is room for everybody – high and low, rich and poor. Otherwise we stake the community that helps us all obtain the sense of security, solidarity and unity immensely important for our common good.

Unfortunately, however, it is a fact that the number of homeless people in Aarhus is increasing – especially young people under 30. This unfortunate development can, to a great extent, be attributed to the reform on social security implemented in 2014. This reform means that young people enrolled in security. can no longer claim social security. This creates a chaotic situation – for instance at “Kirkens Korshær (DanChurchSocial)” whose shelter in Klostertorv is full to the point of bursting.

The living conditions of Homeless Citizens are chaotic, and they, more than anybody, need a place to live and a community to lean on. In this regard the opening of two temporary shelters is a small step in the right direction. It is now essential that this achievement is followed by longlasting solutions on the housing issue – as Aarhus is to be a city for everybody, regardless of their background.

The need for cheap renting accommodation for the marginalized citizens of Aarhus has never been more urgent. We need a variety of solutions. Some want a small self-contained flat that they can afford others need support and community in order to move on. The ongoing development, however, suggests that we need offbeat dwellings for the young people who cannot immediately share a flat. These offbeat dwellings provide latitude for the residents to create a living space where their economic and social issues are taken into consideration.

It is, however, not sufficient to provide a roof over the head for the homeless. It is essential to see to it, that they have the conditions to partake in social communities in order to counteract loneliness and isolation form society.

So far the municipality of Aarhus has renovated apartment buildings in order to house marginalized citizens in cheap renting accommodation. Due to our new status of “frikommune – free municipality” we now have the tools to bypass state regulations and bureaucracy. In our capacity of “frikommune – free municipality” we can opt to create interim tenancies in housing associations, in order for the homeless citizen to try out his or her ability to live alone. We also have the opportunity of providing rent subsidy, Thus we get to carry out experiments within the laws on social housing. This gives rise to totally new solutions.

We, the city council, need to allocate more money to council housing in order to stop the price of renting accommodation to skyrocket. We need to find inventive housing solutions, we need to work on DiY solutions, mobile housing, just like I have brought up an Airbnb inspired inititative for discussion: “Hus til en hjemløs – Housing for a homeless person” – a wide range of citizens of Aarhus having already opened their private homes when I launched “Hus en flygtning – accommodate a refugee”.