File photo (unrelated to story): Sara Lafleur-Vette/Flickr
"So far this year we've had to turn 200 women away," Anette Holm of the municipal crisis centre for women, which has twelve beds for women in need, told the local Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.
City officials said the housing shortage was in part to blame, as women cannot easily access affordable rental accommodation. National shelter organizations such as Roks and SKR warned that the housing crunch's effect on women who need to move on was being felt across the country.
"The vast majority report a lack of accommodation and I think that applies irrespective of which organization it is," Roks treasurer Viveca Holst told GP.
Women's refuges aim to provide emergency accommodation for women who are escaping violent and/or abusive relationships. Many arrive with their children. At present, what is meant to be at most a two- or three-month stay has begun to stretch out, due to problems finding a permanent housing solution.
"It isn't unusual for women and children to live here for up to a year. It isn't good really for women or for children to stay so long in emergency accommodation," said crisis-centre worker Eva Lindberg in Alingsås told the newspaper.
A snap survey carried out by GP revealed that out of seven women's shelters in the city, only one had a vacancy. National organization SKR released statistics showing that 65 percent of shelters had had to turn women away in 2012, up from 55 percent the year before.
SKR: The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (information in English)
Gothenburg's municipal shelter spokeswoman Anette Holm said it would have to be a "political decision" whether to offer more beds as demand now outstrips supply. She also said she would welcome a change in attitude about which party in a domestic conflict should up sticks when violence destroys a relationship.
"We need to work towards the perpetrator, not the woman, being the one to leave," Holm said.