Sweden struggles to find homes for refugees

Sweden struggles to find homes for refugees
New arrivals to Sweden increasingly have to stay in Migration Board (Migrationsverket) residential facilities as the country's municipalities say they cannot offer enough housing, despite financial compensation from the state.

The agency said on Tuesday that it would likely place 8,200 refugees in housing across Sweden this year, but another 2,200 people will not get access to homes.

At present 6,170 people are living in the agency’s own facilities, placing a strain on the Migration Board’s resources. The number is six times higher than what spokeswoman Carolina Henjered deems to be a manageable number of residents.

Henjered said that not being transferred to regular housing risked impeding migrants’ integration.

“They can’t get into Swedish lessons and don’t live near local labour markets,” Henjered told the TT news agency.

The job of finding housing for newly arrived refugees who have been granted asylum in Sweden rests on the shoulders of the county administrative boards, that in turn negotiate with municipalities about housing. The specific placements, however, are managed by the National Employment Agency.

“It’s a lot of actors, and at times one wonders if there are too many,” Henjered said.

The housing crunch in conjunction with the low construction rate of rental properties further complicates the situation.

“There’s a housing shortage, and too few rental properties are being built across the country – those are the reasons the municipalities often refer to,” said Södermanland county administrative board integration coordinator Anna Ekermo Tagesson.

“It’s difficult to argue against it when the housing shortage looks like it does,” she added. “The municipalities that don’t let themselves be persuaded often cite finances.”

While the state steps in to compensate the municipalities for housing refugees, many say that compensation is too low, she added.

TT/The Local/at

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