Day 1: The Hotspot Project…

Day 1 September 14, 2009. Study tours are a special feature of Metropolis this annual conference and give visitors a window into local migration issues.

Yesterday I visited the Hotspot in the suburban Copenhagen neighbourhood of ‘Sjælør,’ where the immigrant population is 50% and 80% in several of the public housing complexes (compared to the city average of 25%). A two-year project funded by the City of Copenhagen to address rising crime levels among youth and to reduce a sense of insecurity and isolation felt by local residents, the Hotspot was modeled on a police-led initiative in Rotterdam. Although Copenhagen’s project has been positioned as a “security” project by local authorities (with an eye on the upcoming 2010 election) rather than an integration initiative, project leader Jørgen Eriksen and his staff focus on long term objectives that are include labour market affiliation and improved learning outcomes for the community’s youth.

This means coordinating a range of programmes -youth, education, employment, social services as well as policing-that will help make a beautiful, but overcrowded and resource-poor community feel more like home, free of fear and open to the institutions and advantages of a fully integrated urban neighbourhood. Better lighting at the train station in the plan, too!