The rise of homelessness among youth
The number of young homeless people in Denmark rose by 80% between 2009 and 2013.
The number of homeless people under 25 in Denmark is growing at a rapid rate – reported figures jumped from 633 in 2009 to 1,138 in 2013. However, these figures do not include another large group of young people without a home – those who do not use the shelters but sleep on various friends’ or acquaintances’ couches every night, until the friend grows tired of them and they have to move on.
Many from this group have had difficult childhoods and are estranged from, or have troubled relationships with, family and friends. Some 45 per cent have been diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses and some 58 per cent use marijuana daily. Typically they have not finished school. Unemployed, they make money by collecting bottles, begging and criminal acts.
Homeless organisations are aware that if a person lacks a stable home for a certain length of time, there is a high chance they will eventually resort to sleeping on the street. By this point, it is even harder to help them. That is why many not-for-profit organisations work to reach this vulnerable group sooner rather than later. However, this group
There are several reasons for the rise in homelessness across the country. One is the decreasing availability of affordable housing – which, between 2007 and 2013, has either halved or decreased by one third, depending on the area.3of young people are difficult to find, as they do not consider themselves homeless and go unreported.
“Too few cheap places to live and too little help at an early stage marginalise vulnerable young people. They run the risk of becoming tomorrow’s generation of real homeless people.”
- Lars Benjaminsen, expert in homelessness, University of Aarhus
One of Oak’s partner organisations, Project Udenfor, has worked with homeless people for the last 18 years. Project Udenfor specialises in helping homeless people who either reject or are rejected by homeless hostels. Specifically, it reaches out to unreported groups of young homeless people before it is too late. Among other initiatives, the Project offers the use of a locker-room to store belongings. It also provides meals, practical help and the option of speaking with a social worker.
Often young homeless people go unreported. They do not tend to use homeless shelters but instead sleep on various friends’ or acquaintances’ couches every night, until they eventually end up on the street.
Project Udenfor works to reach this vulnerable group.
© Fonden projekt UDENFOR
Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report
Year of publication: 2014