Helsingør struggling to find cheap accommodation for people on welfare benefits

The municipality worries more people may end up on the streets due to governmental cuts

Helsingør Municipality worries it won’t be possible to find affordable housing for people on welfare benefits once the government’s cash ceiling plan comes into force this year.

There are currently about 1,200 people on unemployment benefits (kontanthjælp) in the north Zealand town, and with less money from the state, they may have to start looking for cheaper accommodation.

However, as things stand, all of the apartments in the 79 communal buildings that offer low-budget housing have been rented out to refugees on integration benefits.

READ MORE: Asylum-seekers in Jutland protest against conditions in tent camp

Pitiful solution
“It is totally unrealistic to expect that we should be able to find housing for welfare recipients who are forced out of their homes because of the new cash ceiling,” Allan Berg Mortensen, the head of the municipality’s employment committee, told DR.

“We may be forced to house families with children in temporary shelters, containers or hostels, but this is especially pitiful for the children and not what you would expect from a welfare society like Denmark.”

READ MORE: Danish government announces reform of benefits: It should pay to work

More homeless people
There are currently 54 homeless people in Helsingør, and Mortensen worries the number could increase.

According to Martin Damm, the chairman of municipalities organisation KL, the local authorities are expected to find housing for about 17,000 refugees this year and the system is already “completely stretched”.

With support from the blue bloc, the Venstre government has decided to introduce a cash ceiling for people receiving welfare benefits to motivate them to look for work.

It is believed that no recipient will be able to receive more than 14,800 kroner  a month before tax.

However, an ongoing pilot scheme in several municipalities is encouraging recipients to work up to 15 hours a week and keep 70 percent of what they make.

READ MORE: Smaller municipalities missing out on welfare funds for the vulnerable

Motivation to get a job
The initiative will come into force on April 1 for new recipients and on October 1 for those who already get financial support.

It has been estimated that the new rules will affect about 32,000 people, of which some 13,000 are single parents who will receive up to 2,000 kroner less every month.

The government projects 700 people will get a job as a result of the cash ceiling.

READ MORE: Pilot scheme gives Danish welfare recipients the right to earn alongside benefits