Swedish obligation to shelter migrants causes housing crisis, municipalities must house 100.000 migrants next year
— SVT Nyheter (@svtnyheter) October 29, 2017
Swedish broadcaster SVT Nyheter reports on what it calls the ‘displacement effect’ in housing. Municipalities are required by law to arrange accommodation for the new arrivals, assigned to them by the Migration Board. As a consequence, others in need of affordable housing – young people, students and those coming out of different institutions and treatment centers – are forced to the back of the queue.
Thed Carlsson, head of social services in Hässleholm, is blunt about it:
“As a consequence, others who need housing go without. We are not obliged to supply housing for them.“
According to English-language news-website The Local, Sweden has long faced a housing crisis. According to City Mission’s head of social services Anna Johansson, in an interview with The Local:
“People in a time-sensitive situation are finding it much more difficult to get into the housing market now. Young people and newcomers to the country are having problems, but also old people who when they retire have a pension that’s significantly lower than their working income. There aren’t many cheap apartments, there aren’t many cheap rentals, and it feels like there’s no way out if you don’t have a good income.“
In the South-Swedish province of Blekinge, the situation – which is illustrative for that in Sweden – is bleak. There is a serious shortage of housing in all categories, even though municipal and provincial governments are trying to mobilising the construction industry to solve the problem. Their activities are not enough though, as a housing market survey ordered by the provincial government, and executed by the Swedish National Housing Board shows. According to Carina Burelius, planning architect for the provincial government:
“It is totally out of balance. There is an imbalance in all categories of housing; student housing, senior housing, housing for the disabled and for newcomers.“
According to the Board’s assessment, 2.200 new homes have to be built by 2020, but the chances of that number being reached are negligible. Of 560 apartments needed in 2016, only 191 were built, whereas of the planned 739 for 2017, so far only 132 have been built.
To make the situation worse, Swedish municipalities and county councils estimate that they will have to provide additional housing for around 100.000 people with residence permits over the next year. The legal obligation to house immigrants now weights down extra on native Swedes. Meanwhile, the central government, in the form of Housing Minister Peter Eriksson, insists that municipalities are attempting to shift the blame away from themselves, telling news agency TT:
“It’s an incorrect description. Municipalities have a housing security responsibility to ensure that everyone has a home. Most are attended to in the right way.“
According to Eriksson, the problem is with some municipalities and public housing companies not building enough housing to create an excess of housing for the coming years.
“The housing shortage cannot be solved with a quick fix. It will take time to resolve the shortage that has been building up for 20 years“
Unfortunately, he did not say where the money for construction, infrastructure and labour will come from. Nor what sort of irresponsible government allows in 100.000 people for whom there is no housing.