Homelessness in Norway Explained

Homelessness is a huge problem int he world, where people simply don’t have a place to live. As you can imagine, not having a home is pretty dangerous in a country like Norway where the temperature can reach -20 °C (-4 °F) in the winter.

But what is the situation with homelessness in Norway like?

There is believed to be roughly 3,300 homeless people in Norway, which is among the lowest in the world. The government has active strategies to reduce the number of homeless people in Norway, but struggles to reduce the number down to zero.

It’s actually pretty difficult for a Norwegian citizen to become homeless unless they actually want to be homeless, since social services will provide homeless with a place to live.

Generally speaking, all Norwegian citizens are entitled to a place to live, and everyone will be able to get an apartment via social services if they choose to accept it.

Who are the homeless people in Norway?

There are generally three groups of people who are homeless in Norway; foreign citizens who are coming to Norway to beg or do crime, mentally ill people who refuses to live in a government housing, or drug addicts and alcoholics who refuses help.

Anyone from EU/EEA are free to visit Norway without any type of visa, and this also leads to some people coming here with ill intentions, such as begging, crime or other illegal intentions. There is a number of homeless people in this group of non-Norwegian citizens. This group does not the rights to claim housing from the government, so they will stay homeless unless they can afford housing.

Many of these homeless people do not have the right to stay in Norway, meaning that it’s very difficult for them to seek out help from the government to improve their situation.

The other group consists of people who are mentally ill enough to refuse help from the government or social services, but not mentally ill enough to be forcefully kept at an institution. This group is kind of voluntarily homeless, but they will be able to get a place to live if they seek help.

It’s an unfortunate situation that some people find themselves in.

The third group is alcoholics and drug addicts who refuses help from the social services. These people do have the right to get a place to live, but they refuse to accept it for some reason or another. Many of Norway’s 3,300 homeless people are drug addicts or alcoholics.

Can regular citizens become homeless in Norway?

Regular people who cannot afford their rent will not ever really become homeless. If you cannot afford rent as a Norwegian citizen, you will most likely be able to get help from NAV (Norway’s social service system).

They might ask you to do things like find a cheaper place to live, but they will help you out with rent if it’s strictly necessary.

There are emergency homes both for individuals or families who does not have a place to live, and they can stay at these places until they are able to find a new, suitable place to live.

2 thoughts on “Homelessness in Norway Explained”

    • Hi, Eric.

      That entirely depends on each specific case. The most common thing that will affect it is if they are part of Norway’s national insurance system or not. This is what will grant them access to NAV and other services that help them.

      Unless they are part of that system, I think the most likely action is that they get deported due to lack of visa renewal (this requires an address after all). But I’m not 100 % sure how this is done in practice, since there is very little public information available about the issue.

      Best regards


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