Alice Wan and Barbora Novotna, September 16th, 12:00, Copenhagen
Yin Kim, a 33 years old student of Cognition & Communication from the Republic of Korea, wanted to experience one of the most livable cities, according to The Global Liveability Index 2019 carried out by The Economist, Copenhagen. Instead, he became homeless for more than 8 months and therefore had to deal with several health issues. He is a volunteer and admin at Facebook group ‘Copenhagen Students Accommodation Group’, where he helps students in similar situations for already 4 years.
I couldn’t find any accommodation prior to my departure. I was supposed to stay at my hostel for a maximum of 2 weeks until I find a place to stay. But because of unexpected challenge – I couldn’t find any housing – I was forced to spend there more than 2 months. Later, I couldn’t keep paying for the hostel, so I had to move away.
I became homeless. I moved to my school campus’ building, went back and forth with my belongings, and slept at the areas where security guards allowed the homeless students to stay. It was small couches for used by people at school to sit during the day. But we had to take care of our belonging since they could be stolen by strangers any time.
One of the most inconvenient experiences I still remember is that wherever I went, including restroom and shower, I had to take all belongings with me. It’s a terrible memory. As time went on, I experienced health issues, especially due to homeless life side effects. As a result, it was a difficult time for me to spend time on studying that I should have done as a student.
I had concern only about my survival. I continued to search for accommodation via paid housing websites and Facebook in all my spare time. I found the Facebook group called ‘Copenhagen Students Accommodation Group’. consulted my problems with school administration, student counselors, and even course professors and head of my study program department although nothing changed my tough situation. Such difficulty temporarily came to an end when the school housing foundation offered me housing.
But later I found, unfortunately, that all accommodations sponsored by the school housing foundation are mostly for exchange students, the maximum period of housing term is 1 year even though I’m a full-time student. Eventually, after another year of searching, I found a private residence from my friend. However, I really can’t disregard the possibility that I could’ve been homeless again.
From my point of view, there are 2 main causes of housing problems in Copenhagen. Firstly, the demand has always been higher than the supply. Either there must be fewer people or there have to be more accommodation facilities given. However, I do not see any remarkable improvements for at least my stay in Denmark. Second, school rector, all housing foundations from different institutions, and even government are not voluntarily active in making practical solutions on housing matters. To me, it seems unreasonable to keep inviting international students and foreign workers for their own promotions while basically being unable to settle down housing issues for even Danes. I think they must make a crucial decision: Either they decrease the number of foreign students or labors or they continue to work on accommodating residence spaces until the demand and supply meet the balance. Otherwise, bad effects will continue to come.
I hate to admit but it may take years after years to solve the difficult situation completely.
Yin Kim returned earlier to his home country, Korea, because of his health issues. He is currently finishing his studies.
The article would be posted on a journalistic blog, such as Humans of Copenhagen: https://www.facebook.com/humansofcopenhagen/