Housing crisis forces locals to live in a tent

The current housing crisis in Reykjavík has displaced many residents. While the crisis is heavily connected to Iceland’s recent influx of tourists, some locals are forced to live like travelers.

One of them is Lilja Helga Stein­berg Matth­ías­dótt­ir who is currently living in a tent in Laugardalur with her twenty-year-old son. She has been on Reykjavík’s public housing waitlist for six years.

“When you are all the way out on the street there is nothing else to do,” Lilja says, referring to the fact that she felt she had to tell her story to the media. “I didn’t want to do this at all but I knew I had to for something to be done with my case and hopefully others.”

Lilja says that city officials’ lack of reaction makes it seem like it’s none of their business, adding that she is far from the only one in this situation.

“I know of a few but sadly people aren’t very visible”

After her story was first told by RÚV last night she has already had offers of help from strangers. A man offered her a tent that fits six people in place of the two-person tent she currently shares with her son and a woman offered her to stay with her in a two-bedroom apartment.

Lilja expects to take the man up on his offer, but she can’t accept the other one since Reykjavík will consider her housed if she finds an actual roof over her head, no matter how temporary.

“It is so incredibly cold,” she says. “My body isn’t in good shape and I think I’m becoming ill.”

She has an interview with the city’s lawyer next Wednesday and hopes that it will move her case along. She says that despite being disabled, she has always worked and payed her taxes. She feels Reykjavík city has let her down.

“Last time I spent five months on the street and then I was able to live in my sister’s house. The city couldn’t help me in those five months. Then I found an apartment on the free market and my entire salary went into the monthly rent. Now they have to do something for me.”


USD USD 103.12 EUR EUR 126.08
GBP GBP 142.75 DKK DKK 16.93
NOK NOK 13.12 SEK SEK 12.83
CHF CHF 107.34 JPY JPY 0.93

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