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How Many People in Iceland are Homeless?

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How Many People in Iceland are Homeless?

Homeless people waiting for the shelter to open
Homeless people waiting for the shelter to open.Photo: Golli

Q: How many homeless people are there in Iceland in 2018? I would like to know as I’m doing a school project on homelessness in Iceland.

Lillian Hayden, Ireland.

A: Hi Lillian,

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.

The City of Reykjavík, however, released a report on homelessness at the end of 2017. According to data from the report, there are over 360 homeless in Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and largest city. Of this number, 68% were men, and 47% were between 21 and 40 years of age. The numbers include individuals living on the street, in shelters, in “precarious living situations,” as well as combinations of the above. Recently, Icelandic media has reported on a group of locals living permanently at the Reykjavík campsite and has raised awareness of the issue of homelessness. Many of these individuals have disabilities which impact their access to work and housing.

“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.”