Statistical data about homeless migrants in Denmark are to some extent based on estimates. The following is a short overview of the research and statistical data which would reflect the current situation in Denmark with regard to homeless migrants.
In the Rockwool Foundation report on migration (Illegal immigration to Europe and to Denmark, 2014) it is estimated that 35,000 migrants without so-called legal residence are staying in Denmark.
According to SFI (The Danish national centre for social research) 64 % of the homeless migrants or migrants with irregular stay in Denmark, are staying in Copenhagen. According to a recent report (Projekt Udenfor, 2012), the estimated number of homeless migrants in Copenhagen over a period of one year, is approximately 500.
80 % of the 500 migrants are considered to be work migrants who search for a job and are relatively resourceful but who lack housing opportunities and/or sources of income. The remaining 20 % are defined as being the most vulnerable migrants. The most vulnerable homeless migrants often live a life exposed to alcoholism, mental illness and substance abuse. According to the 2013 annual report of the Homeless Unit, 71 % of the Nordic cases involve a serious alcohol or drug abuse. 45 % suffer from some form of mental illness, including related diseases like anxiety, stress and depression. 67 % of the Nordic homeless have or will get access to social benefits in their home country after the initial contact with the authorities there.
A significant part of the EU migration is driven by factors of economic disparities between sending (“push”) and receiving (“pull”) countries. Denmark is indeed a pull country and the process of adapting to these circumstances is ongoing.
All persons with legal residence in Denmark are covered by the Danish Social Services. The legal residence is a juridical term referring to type and length of stay. The services offered would be according to an individual assessment of the need of the person as well as an assessment of the time perspective of the person’s need for social service. The country of origin also plays a role due to a distinction in some of the terms of legal stay according to citizenship.
EU migrants have legal residence for three months as a tourist and up to six months in total when actively searching for employment.
The Nordic migrants (migrants from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway) are subject to the Nordic conventions under which Nordic nationals have free access to reside in Denmark. This is a mutual agreement which exceeds the EU free movement. Nordic migrants do not have to go through immigration authorities and their residence period is not restricted.
SOCIAL HELP AVAILABLE IN DENMARK
There are different private and volunteer-based organizations who offer basic necessities such as food, stay, clothes, health service, locker rooms, counseling, and a variation of social activities for homeless migrants. Services are for the migrants whose stay is in accordance with the Danish law. Some services are offered anonymously.
A significant part of destitute homeless migrants in Copenhagen have drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness. EU citizens with legal residence have the same right as Danish citizens to apply for social services under the Danish homelessness legislation, e.g. access to homeless shelters, contact to the social workers in the municipality etc. Public shelters are for people who suffer from social complexities and problems exceeding the lack of housing (e.g. living with drug/alcohol addiction and/or mental illness). These terms apply to both Danish and EU nationals.
There are grey zones in the distinction between the vulnerable and the more resourceful migrant with reasonable chances of obtaining employment. It is, however, agreed among stakeholders in the field that the longer a migrant stays homeless on the street, the more vulnerable the migrant is or becomes. The consequences of staying in the homelessness environment and rough sleeping are often escalating addictions, somatic diseases as well as exposure to violence. These circumstances are taken to be indicators of vulnerability, limited chances of achieving occupation in Denmark, and thereby risk of chronic homelessness.
Starting from 2015 Copenhagen Municipality has established a Transit Project involving both public and private organizations to meet the needs of destitute EU migrants. The municipal part of the project is placed in the Homeless Unit who operates under the Social Administration in Copenhagen Municipality and has a particular focus on the most vulnerable homeless migrants and on the voluntary reconnection in accordance with the wish of the migrant. Moreover, it is the aim of the program to gain improved knowledge and understanding of the destitute EU migrants in Copenhagen.
The good reconnection
In addition to our close cooperation with public and private institutions in Copenhagen, we cooperate with municipalities and the NGO-sector across borders as well for the purpose of the good return and finding sustainable solutions for migrants in difficult situations.
The situation of many of the most vulnerable homeless migrants in Denmark is characterized by the lack of access to the long-term social and health services they need such as permanent benefits, rehabilitation, social assistance, and a reliable access to health care. Without a Danish personal identity number, the migrant will most often have access only to emergency services. Therefore, effective and constructive cross-border cooperation is of great importance to our work. Being able to offer a worthy alternative to being homeless in Copenhagen is essential and is often the only recovery option for the vulnerable homeless migrant.
The good return depends on a strong European network and cooperation with local partners. In the Western and Northern Europe we often cooperate with the local social service as well as the personal network, family and friends, of the migrant. In Eastern and Central Europe we cooperate both with the social service and also to a large extend with the NGO-sector.
An EU citizen who has worked at least 10 weeks, who is able to present a work contract (minimum one year), and has become involuntarily unemployed, can apply for unemployment benefits at the local municipality. The application must be submitted within one month from the termination of employment. Applications are processed according to an individual assessment.
The unemployment benefit would normally be granted for up to six months while the EU citizen is actively seeking employment.
Destitute migrants - who most often are not entitled to Danish benefits - have the possibility of contacting the social service in order to request assistance to the expenditures and/or practicalities related to the return to their country of origin, please see the above mentioned Transit Project.
All persons in Denmark will get free emergency treatment within the Danish health care system regardless of nationality or residence status.
Migrants who have legal residence, Danish Health Insurance card, and social security number have access to health care on equal terms as Danish citizens. These criteria are usually met by having an address and a confirmation from the State Administration of being an employment seeking or working EU citizen.
Migrants without Danish Health Insurance card and social security number will be referred to the country of origin for long-term treatment or other treatments exceeding emergencies.
In Copenhagen there are a few clinics for homeless people who to some extent give treatment anonymously.
SUPPORT OPTIONS FOR HOMELESS MIGRANTS
Sundholm night and day shelter (only Danish and EU-citizens with social problems)
2300 Copenhagen S
Tel.: +45 33 17 67 18
Open all hours
Rest, shower, cheap food, laundry, night shelter
Grace day and night (only in the winter) shelter
2200 Copenhagen N
Rest, storage, breakfast, coffee and warm food, night shelter (only winter)
Health Clinic (Danish Red Cross)
1651 Copenhagen V
Tel.: +45 31 71 61 64
Open: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 17.00 – 20.00
A variety of health services for undocumented migrants
Bethesda IKC (Internationalt Kristent Center)
Israels Plads, 1362 Copenhagen K
Tel.: +45 33 32 59 39
Danish lessons: Tues + Thursday 10-12, 14-16 for everybody
English lessons: Mon + Wed: 10-12
Lawyer counseling every second Wednesday, shower
No ID is needed and no registration
Kompasset (Kirkens Korshær)
2400 Copenhagen NV
Tel.: +45 23 35 62 81 / +45 23 35 60 37
Open: Monday-Thursday 9.00 – 15.00
Independent information service for homeless migrants without registration in Denmark, storage, shower, rest, multilingual staff, mentoring and counseling
Projekt Udenfor (link to website: http://udenfor.dk/?lang=en)
2200 Copenhagen N
Tel.: +45 33 42 76 00
Locker room, Blue car with free food, outreach work on the street
Project Blisko (Mændenes Hjem/Men's Home)
Lille Istedgade 2
1706 Copenhagen V
Tel.: +45 81 88 23 76 / +45 81 88 23 77
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Counseling, outreach work on street level, clean needles and syringes. For homeless migrants with a drug use.
Open: Tuesday and Thursday 11.00-16.00
Hjemloeseenheden (Homeless Unit, Copenhagen Municipality)
Griffenfeldtsgade 44, stuen
2200 Copenhagen N
Tel.: +45 33 17 41 22
Open Reception from 10.00 – 13.00
Individual counseling about social services and the Danish system, reconnection to network or country of origin, social and financial support according to Danish law, informal conversations about life situation, outreach work
Jobcenter International House (link to webpage: http://www.kk.dk/artikel/jobcenter-copenhagen-international)
1600 Copenhagen V
+45 82 56 46 00
Jobcenter and registration services mainly for skilled international employments seekers who are able to communicate in English