Eight homeless women have published a statement on the proposed closure of an emergency solution that provides shelter to homeless women every night.
The Konukot Shelter, which is part of the Red Cross and is designed to meet basic housing, hygiene and food needs, is usually only open from 17:00 to 10:00. The shelter had been kept open 24 hours a day as an emergency measure at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April to allow homeless women to stay indoors as part of an anti-epidemic law.
Ten women between the ages of 19 and 60, all of whom had had to live on the streets for a longer or shorter period of time, moved to this temporary emergency facility.
However, with infections receding, the emergency measure will be completed by the end of next month.
In a statement issued by the women in question, they protested the impending closure and wrote that it was a matter of life and death for them.
“No one should be homeless, let alone in Iceland. But unfortunately, we are, homeless, far too many, despite the fact that many houses are empty and their owners are waiting for them to burn to the ground or collapse to be able to build hotels, office buildings or luxury apartments. This statement is from us, homeless women in Reykjavík, to you who have never been forced to live on the streets. To you, who build a community where it seems okay for people not to have a roof over their heads, and to you who claim to support the homeless, as long as that support is not in your neighborhood. “
This is the opening article of their statement, in which they delve into the experience they have gained while living without shelter on the streets of Reykjavík. On the five pages of Emilie Camilla Johans Jacob, Embla Nótt Anderson, Zvala Zjana, Tiger of the fought to the death, SRK, Magnea Örvarsdóttir, Alma Lind and Kristvina, who have spent varying amounts of time on the street, ranging from 2 months to 8 years, describe some things they faced.
The statement sheds light on some of the shocks that women have had to deal with before and to this day, but seemingly still only scratching the surface of their struggle. The story also discusses what this year’s pandemic has meant for their situation.
“It is a sad fact that an epidemic was needed to reduce the number of homeless people in Iceland. COVID-19 forced the authorities to give the homeless a roof over their heads. It is difficult to be at home, if you have nowhere to go, “he says.
The women also describe in some individual statements how having a permanent place of residence has changed their lives in a crucial way. In their report, they describe experiencing a sense of stability and a kind of safety net that has enabled them to re-establish meaningful relationships with others, sleep safely and begin to recover. Without continuous shooting.
“Not always having to go out on the street at ten in the morning, no matter what day it is, whether it is hot or cold, snow or rain, has changed everything for us. We have not felt this great security for many years. We have become like a family, both the staff and the women who live here. “
The shelter offers women a kind of stepping stone and the opportunity to rebuild resources despite struggles such as PTSD and addiction.
“I certainly think that if this were extended we would pay a month, we could pay a small rent to the state if that is what is needed. Covid is also not gone forever, but we should still be on the streets? … We are not destroying or robbing anything, we can live somewhere normal if given the opportunity. “
The report does not shy away from dark aspects related to their lives on the streets. There is no denying things like using drugs as a lifesaver and whether at least some of them are still trying to recover from violence and sexual violence – not trying to apologize but explaining and listening to them.
“We have lived in a situation that few of you can handle. The least society can do is stand with us in the fight for a decent life and stop condemning us. So if you see another person sleeping in a car or basement, then a) she’s just trying to sleep and b) she’s sleeping there because she has no other place to be c) not calling the police. The one who is sleeping is not dangerous but the community as a creative situation where someone is forced to sleep in the basement is fatal. “
“I hope you understand now. This is life or death for us. The message you are sending us by shoveling billions into big business but blocking this small resource is that our lives are worthless. Because we can promise you that at least two of the women living here will die within a year if this resort is closed. “
Source: The Nordic Page