Welcomed to homelessness in Copenhagen

The fast increase of people coming to Copenhagen is creating a housing shortage in the city. 22yo Lucia is caught in the middle of the stress and struggle of finding a home in Copenhagen.

By Nadja Jensen
For weeks the central Copenhagen hostel has been Lucia on/off home.

Rush hour is over the city. Thousands of cyclists crowd the streets. Busses and trains are filled to the brim. The people of Copenhagen are making their ways home to family, pets or just some quiet time alone after a busy day’s work. But not everyone gets to go to a place they can call home after a long and exhausting day.

Lucia Moretti, 22, from Italy came to Copenhagen 3 weeks ago to study landscape architecture at University of Copenhagen. She started looking for a place about 2 months before starting school, but now, even after the busy university life has started, Lucia still have not found a permanent home.

While many people in Copenhagen are making their way home after work and school, Lucia is heading back to a bed in a hostel room she shares with seven other people. She’s been staying at Danhostel Copenhagen City on and off since she came to Denmark. Never had she expected that it would be so difficult to find a room in Copenhagen.

“The situation is really shocking for me. In the beginning I felt like I was really on time looking for an apartment,” Lucia said.

Hostel of home hunters

Over the recent years there has been a big population growth in Copenhagen and the city is expecting further growth of 100 000 people over the next ten years. It is especially people like Lucia who are moving to Copenhagen from other countries that is causing the current growth. In 2014, 764 people moved to the Copenhagen from other Danish cities while 7 302 moved to the city from countries outside Denmark. The big increase is creating a housing shortage in the city.

While staying at the hostel Lucia has met several other people who is also experiencing the housing shortage first hand. At the moment four out of the eight people staying in the same room as Lucia are struggling to find a permanent home in Copenhagen. They have all moved there because of either work or studies.

Anette Brylov, marketing manager at Danhostel, a Danish hostel chain that also runs the hostel Lucia is staying at, said that their hostels really are mainly for tourist and short stays. They do not have any specific information on how many people are staying at their hostels semi-permanently while looking for a place, but at Danhostel Copenhagen City they admit that it does happen from time to time.

However, the hostel offers no special discount for people staying for longer visits and one can only book a stay of 5 days at a time. Then they’ll have to check out and in again, and often even move to another room.

“Moving around all the luggage is kind of annoying. But I can’t complain,” Lucia said. “I am in some way lucky because at least I have a place to stay.”

Lucia shares a room with 7 other people not leaving much room for privacy.

One gave up

At the university Lucia has also met people who struggle with their living situation. She tells that two boys in her class are living in Malmö, Sweden and have to drive back and forth between the two countries every day. Even though Malmö is only a short drive from Copenhagen, it is still annoying and exhausting for the two boys.

Not everyone can handle the stress of not being able to find a home in Copenhagen and another girl Lucia has met had to give up the search.

“There was this French girl living here who started university the same time as me, but I just heard that she moved back home to France,” Lucia said.

Maybe I’m the reason

Figuring out the system for finding an apartment is Copenhagen took some time for Lucia. There are lots of different websites for people looking for tenants. A big amount of listing are also only shared on Facebook.
Every morning Lucia sits in the hostel lobby using their often very slow WI-FI to check up on new listings and see if there has been any luck on her previous enquiries. The lack of luck in her search is making Lucia wonder what is going wrong.

“Every time you reply to an announcement you have to write a little bit about yourself. Maybe our cultures are different. I never know what to write in my text. I’ve changed it so many times,” Lucia said. “Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the reason why I’m struggling so much to find a room.”