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Refugees often left to find their own housing

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15:14 CEST+02:00
Only about a third of refugees in Sweden are living in apartments provided by the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), despite a government move two years ago which put the service in charge of providing all refugees with housing.

Newly arrived refugees with permanent residence permits should be allowed a first-hand contract on an apartment in a municipality that offers the chance of a job, according to the two-year-old reform.

But this reform has now been slammed by at least one local authority integration head who insists that the programme “takes too long” and leaves refugees alone in finding a home of their own.

Arbetsförmedlingen has failed in steering the flow of refugees to places with work and housing,” said Peter Göthblad, departmental head of integration in Trollhättan, western Sweden, to Sveriges Radio (SR).

“And then they end up here in Trollhättan, where many have relatives and friends to move in with. Two or three families live in the same apartment sometimes; I don't even know how they do it.”

Meanwhile, Mathias Wahlsten of Arbetsförmedlingen explained that the programme is not working to its potential due to a lack of cooperation from the municipalities involved.

“We are often refused from several municipalities when we seek apartments for someone who has recently arrived,” he told SR.

“We can't force the municipalities to arrange apartments.”

Wahlsten pointed to several difficulties for immigrants as a further reason for the reform's under-performance.

“You have so many different things to sort out when you have just got a permanent residence permit. It helps to have housing organized. We're trying to find housing at a place that suits the individual in terms of work and integration opportunities,” he told SR.

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