Until March this year, refugees who arranged their own accommodation were entitled to receive extra benefits. But that simply led to people taking the money and going to stay with relatives or friends in areas already suffering from high unemployment and social problems.
So in March the government abolished the policy, expecting that refugees would naturally gravitate towards the more available accommodation in small towns.
In fact, the number of refugees living with acquaintances has risen since March, leading some councils to limit refugees’ options about where they live.
“I believe there’s a safety factor in seeking out your countrymen or people you know which means that people choose this if they have the option,” said Hans Emanuelsson, chief analyst at the Board of Migration.
“So money perhaps doesn’t play such a significant part,” he told Swedish Radio.
Amer Abdulah Kim, who came to Sweden four years ago from Iraq, lives with his brother in Rosengård in Malmö. He told SR that he had originally intended to stay in accommodation reserved for refugees but felt insecure there.
“You feel more free and secure staying with someone you know and someone who understands you,” he said.