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Immigrant homelessness on the rise in Sweden

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Immigrant homelessness on the rise in Sweden
11:56 CET+01:00
While there are fewer people sleeping rough in Sweden today, the total number of people in emergency housing or not qualifying on the ordinary housing market is rising, with those born outside of Sweden overrepresented among the homeless, according to fresh figures from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

"It shows that the government's strategies to combat homelessness have had no effect and haven't changed the situation for these people,” said Marika Markovits, head of Swedish charity Stockholms Stadsmission to news agency TT.

Out of the 34,000 or so people that are homeless or of cut off from the housing market in Sweden today, about 4,500 were facing "housing emergencies" such as imminent eviction.

In addition, 5,600 were residing in some sort of government institution; 13,900 were living in a half-way home, and 6,800 had managed to secure some sort of short-term accommodation, according to the agency.

However, despite the total number of people challenged with some form of homelessness rising, the study also shows that the number of people actively living on the streets has decreased dramatically in the last five years.

In 2005, there were some 950 people living on the Swedish streets, and in 2011 the corresponding number was 280.

One of the changes from 2005 is also that drug abuse and mental illness has decreased among the overall homeless population of Sweden. At the same time, the number of people originating from outside Sweden has grown.

In total, the study showed that 34 percent of the overall homeless population, some 10,900 people, were born outside of Sweden.

Some 40 percent of these were women and 60 percent were men.

A third of these came from other European countries. The second largest group originated in the Middle East and the third largest in Africa.

The largest share of those from outside of Sweden who have no permanent address, (37 percent) were living in emergency housing or half-way homes of some description.

The next largest group had managed to rent a room or a short term let (24 percent).

An additional 7 percent of homeless non-Swedes were reportedly in prison, while 1 percent were sleeping rough on the streets.

Compared to the whole study, the foreign born also stands out from the rest by having a higher number living in hostels, cheap hotels and in emergency housing.

Many are also parents of children under 18.

The most common reason for homelessness among those born outside of Sweden was failure to qualify on the ordinary housing market, which was the only reason that a quarter of the foreign homeless stated as the reason for their predicament.

The study showed that there are homeless people in all Swedish counties and that 280 of Sweden's 290 municipalities reported having homeless people.

The highest numbers of homeless people in Sweden were found in the three largest cities; Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

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