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New Proposal for 24-Hour Homeless Shelters

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New Proposal for 24-Hour Homeless Shelters

Reykjavík.

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Iceland’s Welfare Watch committee is recommending that overnight homeless shelters in Reykjavík remain open 24 hours a day, RÚV reports. Shelters provides access to toilets and showers, clothing distribution, and a place for people to rest, as well as occasional paid work, social services counseling, and health care services. However, they are currently closed from 10AM until 5PM.

The Welfare Watch is a committee appointed by the Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security in order to “monitor systemically the social and financial consequences of the economic situation for families and individuals in Iceland and to propose measures to help households and in particular vulnerable groups.” It was first established in 2009, following the financial collapse, but was reinstated in 2014.

In its proposal, which was made public in an announcement issued by the Ministry of Welfare on Thursday, the Welfare Watch also recommended that access to rehab facilities be improved for homeless individuals—specifically, the abolishment of rehab wait lists for the homeless—as well as increased employment opportunities for people who use shelters. The committee also recommended that additional halfway houses be established where homeless individuals can be assured of long-term and safe housing.

The Welfare Watch further suggested that a working group be established, stating that the government needs to work in close collaboration with local municipalities to make these proposals a reality. According to statistics issued by the City of Reykjavík, homelessness is on the rise in the city: in 2012, there were 180 homeless individuals registered in Reykjavík, whereas last year, there were just under 350.

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