Cold winter reality sets in for foreign homeless

Solutions sought to mitigate chronic problem of foreign homeless lacking shelter

This winter approximately 500 foreign homeless people without CPR numbers will face the season without shelter in Denmark.

Foreign homeless people will find it more difficult to find shelter as they cannot use public shelters without having a CPR number and beds are becoming scarce in emergency shelters, reports Berlingske.

Aid organizations are calling for a permanent solution to a problem that continually comes up as the cold weather approaches and is one that leads to frequent citizen complaints who are bothered by the food, piles of clothing and human waste that are found in public spaces.

“We have a big group of people who will find it difficult to withstand the winter if it should be a hard one,” Christian Bjerre, secretary general of Blue Cross, told DR.

“We have to do something about it. Politicians are reluctant to make a decent solution,” he said.

READ MORE: Foreign homeless an increasing problem for Copenhagen

Emergency shelters inadequate
In the past, organizations such as the Mission Among Homeless had been supported by the state to provide accommodation for the homeless in Bavnehøj Church in Sydhavn, but the church is now closed.

Additionally, efforts to raise money to create another shelter have been unsuccessful.

And for the emergency shelters that are currently in operation, they have to rely on limited resources, few beds and a mostly volunteer staff base.

“The existing overnight arrangements are vulnerable projects that by-and-large are driven by volunteers,” Susannah L. Sønderlund, head of Kompasset Kirkens Korshær, told Berlingske. “We don’t believe this is sustainable.”

Solutions could mean more homeless
One solution that has been broached is the creation of a transit space where homeless people can stay temporarily, receive food and medical attention, and take part in efforts to return home.

Berlingske reports that such a solution would be difficult to implement at parliament. Enhedslisten (Unity party) has tried to put this solution on the budget several times without success, facing a fear from others that such a transit space, if successful, would only increase the numbers of homeless coming to Denmark.

Copenhagen has made 3.5 million kroner available to local organizations to take care of the 200 – 300 foreign homeless people living in the city this year, but it is the municipality’s hope that from next year the state will take over.