Limited support for proposal to help foreign homeless

Far-left wants to give a hand to foreign homeless as the first step in the repatriation process. Others in parliament say they want to concentrate on keeping them from coming in the first place

Homeless shelters that receive state funding should be allowed to provide basic care and shelter to homeless immigrants in order to help them off the street, says left-wing political party Enhedslisten.

“We have pushed the government for several years on this issue and we will continue to do so. It is unacceptable not to offer help to those desperately in need,” Pernille Skipper, an MP and party spokesperson, told The Copenhagen Post. 

Her comments come after seven homeless advocacy groups last week called for a change to laws preventing homeless EU immigrants from receiving welfare benefits.

A place to stay before they leave

Currently, shelters are not permitted to use funds they receive from the state to provide aid to non-citizens, but with winter setting in, they are taking the opportunity to remind people of the problem.

Enhedslisten first proposed its idea for what it calls ‘transit housing’ back in 2011. The proposal didn’t go through, but with a left-leaning government now in power and the homeless groups making renewed calls for action, the party has again put the idea forward.

“There needs to be a place that provides these foreigners with adequate advice about their rights and gives basic medical care, all of which should lead towards a safe repatriation process. Most of these people would rather be in their home country than on the street in Denmark. But they have no way of getting back. We should provide that assistance.”

Keep focus on repatriation
Members of parliament’s immigration and integration committee met with the Immigration Service, the police and the management of a homeless shelter last week to discuss the issue. After their visits, the view among government parties and the opposition remained in favour of keeping the current policy.

Committee member Trine Bramsen (Socialdemokraterne) said the government had no plans to establish transit housing, since it could encourage homeless immigrants not to co-operate with repatriation efforts.

Bramsen said initiatives such as increased policing were a better way of combating homelessness. She also suggested making sure that foreign immigrants knew that their chances of finding work here were slim. 

“This might prevent them from coming in the first place,” she said.

Peter Skaarup, a spokesperson for the right-wing opposition party DF, also felt transit housing would just perpetuate the problem. 

“It makes no sense. It will just attract more immigrants and reduce the incentive for those who are here to go back to their countries,” Skaarup said.

Instead, he called for more money to be spent on repatriation efforts.