Funds earmarked for reducing youth homelessness

Young homeless people rarely use established services

The ministry for integration and social affairs has allocated 51,9 million kroner to reducing homelessness among young people.

The fund comes from a budget reserved for special measures to improve conditions for welfare claimants and vulnerable groups in society.

A study conducted by SFI, the national welfare research centre, revealed that nearly one in five homeless people are between the ages of 18 and 24. The official number of young homeless people has risen from 633 in 2009 to 1002 in 2011, and the actual number is likely to be much higher.

According to Manu Sareen, Minister for Social Affairs, “they rarely see themselves as really homeless. More than half of them live as so-called couch-surfers and stay around with friends, acquaintances and family members instead of at a reception center. This makes it more difficult to spot and help them.”

Prevention, says Sareen, is especially important: "Often the young people slip between our fingers when they turn 18, because the different official branches do not communicate with each other well enough. For me it is important that we get a hold of the vulnerable young people much earlier, so that they have the same opportunities as their peers to get well into adult life and get an education and a job.”

SFI also estimates that three out of four of these young people struggle with mental illness or abuse, and very few make use of traditional services for the homeless. Hence, the budget will be used, among other things, to help them engage in and maintain a course of treatment for abuse or mental health.

The application deadline for municipalities is on the 20th of June, and the project will run until September 2017.