Alexandra on the cover of the magazine Strada, where she talks about homlessness and homeless people.
The magazine is behind a paywall, but of more immediate interest here is the photo.
I understand Finland has more or less eradicated homelessness. I don't know the details though.
In DK there are of course people who are homeless as well, most suffer from some sort of addiction, alcohol or drugs. Others from various forms of mental disorders and then there are those who for whatever reasons don't really fit in. They become vagabonds or as they call themselves Landevejsriddere = Knights of the Road. - There are less than 100 of these, who form a lose network and conform to various unwritten rules within their community. Like not stealing. They meet once every summer in Jutland. - Which is also frequented by kindergartens and school classes who use this opportunity to talk with real homeless people about living a life as a homeless and why they ended up there.
That's the more romantic part of homelessness.
Most are not living on the street because they want to. And while the social services help them find a place to live, many end up being evicted, because they don't pay their rent or act in a way they leads to the being kicked out.
If they are Danish citizens or have a residence permit they are eligible for social welfare, but you need to have a fixed address to have a bank account, so most homeless walk into a social service office where they get enough money in cash to last them through the day, even though many end up buying alcohol or drugs for the money. They are the hopeless cases, those that cannot be "activated" because unless you are sick, you have to work or go through an education in order to qualify for social welfare. Of course an alcoholic can't do that.
Many supplement their welfare by odd jobs, begging, collecting bottles (they are recycled for money, and you can actually earn fairly well collecting bottles) or selling a homeless paper. The money they earn from selling the paper go to the homeless himself. It is a kind of legalized begging, but the paper is actually an interesting read. And the homeless have to conform to certain standards in their behavior or they lose the right to sell the paper. No public drunkenness, no plaguing people and not too unwashed.
Most homeless own a phone, partly for practical and social reasons, but also to call for help in an emergency and last but not least, so they can read letters from the municipality or doctor etc.
Also interestingly, many homeless own a large dog - apart from being a companion and protection, they also get extra welfare to cover the needs of the dog.
At the very bottom are those who hopeless drug addicts being constantly high. They live a precarious - and often short - life. They are too messed up to even being able to able to collect welfare. And they are usually barred from the homeless shelters, due to their behavior. They have to resort to begging and petty theft to get their next fix until one day they overdose in a public toilet somewhere.
Those I have described so far are citizens and residents. To that come probably an equal large group of foreigners without residence permit. They don't exist on paper and as such don't get welfare, so they have to rely on very odd jobs, begging and stealing as well as collecting bottles. Eventually they are destined to be picked up by the police and deported.
- It's cold these days and there are not enough room in the shelters to accommodate all, so some will commit minor crimes in order to - if they are lucky - spend the night in jail. And if they time it right, in time for a hot meal.
Most homeless gather in groups in the city centers, for social reasons and because something happens there to break the tedium. Much to the annoyance of local residents and shop owners. The police usually leave them alone unless they disturb the peace, fight or harass people. Because most ordinary people are left alone, also in the buses. (In many places in DK you check yourself in at the public transport but if caught riding without having paid the fine is very
hefty!) Beforehand when I rode the buses in Aarhus I would sometimes listen in on the conversations between homeless people and many such conversations were very informed about current event and often downright philosophical. I guess there is plenty of time for pondering when you live on the streets. - To more amusing episodes, one I will never forget were two drunk (female) homeless who sang a less than flattering song about their social worker.
My brother-in-law when he was young and had his small daughter, would often park near a group of homeless and leave the car unlocked, asking them to look after his car and (usually sleeping) daughter. In return he would buy some beers or give them money. No one, no one at all would be allowed to touch that car! (Including parking wardens...) Many had after all had families, good jobs and children, before ending up on the streets, so my brother-in-law showed trust and respect and that was much appreciated and they lived up to that trust.
No one dreams about ending up on the street...
- I realize that this is very similar to how it is in many other countries, so this was just a picture of how it is here in DK.
And finally a couple of Knights of the Road in their very recognizable attire.