30. September 2008 Link til artiklen i Arbejderen 30.sept 2008


By Tine Rye Hansen

Student at Copenhagen University

Volunteer at 'Street Space' (Gaderummet)


The judgment has fallen. The youths are to be thrown onto the streets.


Gaderummet - a socio-psychological live-in and treatment center for homeless youths - is to be closed after more than a year of negotiations with Copenhagen City (Københavns Kommune) and after the High Court determined that Copenhagen City has the right to take over Gaderummet's present residence at Rådmandsgade 60 on Nørrebro.


The youths can choose between a new institution, that limits user influence and degrades Gaderummet's intensive psychological help to a more symbolic counseling funded by psychiatry. This replaces a 24/7 access to help with far more restrictive opening hours, or perhaps the only free space available: the street.


Most of the youths will choose the latter, because the limitations of the new services will reduce their practical choices and the rights to mental and physical freedom.


As a volunteer at Gaderummet, I have followed the closing of the place from the inside and I have heard what the youths have to say about this new institution. They are very concerned.





The residents and users of Gaderummet are all youths with social and psychological problems such that no other institution has been able to embrace, help or even comprehend.


These youths have histories at various other institutions. Places they have left voluntarily or been thrown out of. At Gaderummet, they have managed to find some breathing space and a sense of community.


A community that has not been formed on the principles of a omnipotent leadership with unbending standards or right and wrong, but rather on the principles of the youths themselves sharing their opinions in dialogue - both on an every-day basis and during the weekly Sunday Meetings, where the youths are part of the decision making process concerning the residence.


Where do you go if that only alternative offered is the public space of the streets?


Now Gaderummet will be shut down. Or perhaps it will be replace by an alternative, where direct user democracy will be replaced by a leadership, which will allow the youths influence - if these leaders choose to.


Not only will these youths be ejected from a building that has created the frameworks of a home, they will also lose the right to self-determination in their own lives. And therefore, many of them will feel forced to choose the street.


The temperature is already falling, autumn is upon us and soon winter will catch up to these youths, and they will look for somewhere to stay. The public space in Copenhagen already houses over 3000 youths, and the approximately 180 youths, who no longer can stay at the live-in center will crowd this space. And perhaps even our own space.




Closing Gaderummet not only means the horrible act of taking the youths home away from them, it also has a social effect. It also effects you and I Do you want to be the next one to throw a homeless person out?


This is not just the worst possible scenario - it is also a raw reality: If these youths are sent out into the public space, there is no limitation to where they stay. They will find their way indoors. And maybe your front entrance will be the next place they choose to spend the night.


Who wants a society where the political responsibility for welfare is passed along to individual citizens in a case where the futures of these youths are in jeopardy? How can we work to improve the integration of the weakest groups into society, if we no longer know where to find them?


How will the public receive these new homeless people? Do you want a new neighbor living in your back stairs?


(Translated by P. Englar)