Homeless, no job and invisible

3:40 min

Increasing numbers of migrant workers from other European Union (EU) countries are coming to Sweden in search of work. Many of those who fail to find a job become destitute and homeless. This is a group which remains largely invisible to the authorities.

In the wake of the financial crisis, a new wave of labour migration has reached Sweden. Many of these new migrants are from other EU countries, particularly from Southern and Eastern Europe, and so are entitled to live and work in Sweden. Those who do not find employment, however, find that they are largely outside the Swedish system and so are on their own.

Radio Sweden visited Stockholms Stadsmission, a non-profit organisation that provides support to homeless people here in Stockholm and talked with Arto Maksunen, unit director of the Crossroads project, which helps homeless people here in Sweden with foreign citizenship. He explained that many of these homeless men (almost all are men) from EU countries are educated and skilled, but quickly end up homeless if they fail to find work.

“It’s not easy to get an apartment in Stockholm,” says Mr Maksunen. “Even if you are a Swede from another part of Sweden. And the same with the work situation. There is plenty of work, but it’s not easy to find it.”

Stockholms Stadsmission has seen an increasing number of homeless people coming to them this year from EU countries, with approximately 200 new arrivals at their centres every month. Here they can get something to eat, wash clothes, rest and receive support and advice about finding work and accommodation in Sweden.

Mr Maksunen believes the state needs to do more to help these people find work, who he says currently do not receive any help from the social welfare system.

Sweden’s Employment Service has no statistics regarding this group whilst the Migration Board’s figures tell only part of the story, recording the number of EU citizens or permanent residents who register their intent to stay in Sweden. According to the Migration Board, there were 10,000 such people last year and 4,700 as of the 15th May this year.

Radio Sweden talked with a young Romanian man who has been here for five months, searching for work and living rough on the streets. He described the obstacles and difficulties in finding work, but told our reporter he had not yet given up: “I’m still searching for a job. I want to stay.”