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Building of new student flats grinds to a halt

The number of newly-built student apartments completed in 2010 fell sharply compared to the year before, amounting to only about one tenth of the number of units completed in 2009.

The lack of student housing in Sweden is already considered a crisis by many. Last autumn, students at Stockholm University staged demonstrations to protest the lack of housing available to them, while the student newspaper at Uppsala University said the housing crisis in the university town was “worse than ever”.

Now student organisations are demanding national and local initiatives to help alleviate the perpetual lack of housing for Sweden’s university students.

“We now have to move from words to action. The necessary political measures must be carried out. We’re supposed to be a knowledge-based nation in Sweden, but practical obstacles like a massive housing shortage aren’t acceptable,” Beatrice Högå, chair of Sweden’s National Union of Students (Sveriges förenade studentkårer, SFS), told the TT news agency.

According to figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB), only 125 student apartments were completed in 2010, a precipitous drop from the 1,172 housing unites that were completed in 2009.

The flats were included in larger apartment buildings which were completed in 2010, adding a total of 19,500 new tenant-owner apartments (bostadslägenheter) to Sweden’s overall housing stock.

Of the 125 new units, 118 were built in Karlskrona municipality in southern Sweden, while 7 can be found in the city of Malmö, according to SCB.

Around 83,000 new students were accepted to study at Swedish universities last year – which means that not even two new apartments were built for every one thousand students admitted.

“In a country like Sweden, it shouldn’t have to be like this,” said Högå.

She believes that politicians need to take a more active stance on the issue of student housing by enacting subsidies, tax breaks, or reduced value added tax on construction to help stimulate the building of more student housing units.

Oscar Lavelid, chair of the Stockholm Federation of Student Unions (Stockholms studentkårers centralorganisation – SSCO), estimated the wait time for a one-room student apartment through the Stiftelsen Stockholms Studentbostäder (SSSB), the main student housing foundation in the Stockholm, is around 18 months.

He added that no new student housing has been built in the Swedish capital in the past four years.

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ECONOMY

Moderate party’s mortgage pledge ‘would harm Sweden’: Riksbank chief

The head of Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank, has warned that suspending rules forcing banks to demand mortgage repayments from borrowers -- something pledged by the parties forming Sweden's next government -- would be "damaging for Sweden".

Moderate party's mortgage pledge 'would harm Sweden': Riksbank chief

All four of the parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as Sweden’s next prime minister said in the run up to September’s election that they would either suspend or reduce the so-called “amortisation requirement” once in government. 

But in an interview with the Aftonbladet newspaper, Stefan Ingves, who steps down as the bank’s governor at the end of this year, said that the measure would be poor economic policy in the current inflationary situation. 

“This is an inappropriate measure which would harm Sweden if you did it,” he said. “You’ve got to understand that we have enormous amounts of mortgage debt in the Swedish economy and that the mortgage market represents a risk for the economy.” 

“It would send an extremely unfortunate signal to say that as soon as it gets a bit more expensive to borrow, then you should stop amortising [paying off the interest],” he said.

Ingves’s statement came as Erik Thedéen, the general director of Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority, also criticised the proposal. 

“To use the amortisation tool in the same direction as during the pandemic would quite simply be a wrong measure,” he told Sweden’s state broadcaster SR in its regular Saturday interview

He said that if the new government wanted to help those who risk personal bankruptcy as a result of rising interest rates, there were much better ways of doing. 

“Only half of households have mortgages, and they typically have fairly strong finances,” he said. “So if we want to help those with the tightest margins, then this is an extremely poor measure, when there are a lot of better measures you could come up with when it comes to finance policy.”

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