Opinion: ‘Sweden’s housing policy has failed an entire generation’

Sweden's housing policies have left an entire generation behind, as it is impossible for most to afford a newly built apartment on their own, argues Hanna Franzén from the Skåne Left Party Youth.

Opinion: 'Sweden's housing policy has failed an entire generation'
Does Sweden need an ambitious new housing project like the Million Programme? Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A new report from the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) shows that 8,600 young people between the age of 20 and 27 in Malmö and Lund are forced to continue living at home with their parents.

The report confirms what we young people already knew: we are the first generation with poorer access to both housing and work than our parents. The report puts a figure on a reality that young people already feel.

The extensive housing shortage, and above all the lack of cheap rental contracts has existed for a long time. In 2003 the number was already high: 23 percent of all young people then did not have their own home. Since then, the proportion of young people forced to live in their family home has grown.

That's despite the repeated warnings and reports that showed how an unsustainable system was building too few homes, and when it was building, it was building homes that are too expensive. The Swedish Union of Tenants report shows that 8,400 young people in Malmö and Lund live on such a low income that they have the right to welfare.

It's impossible for most young people to move into an expensive newly built apartment, and housing policy has so far been unable to solve the housing shortage.

READ ALSO: Renovation means eviction because of Sweden's housing crisis

Today's class society is reflected in the Union of Tenants report. It shows that young people who have parents or relatives who can help them to buy a bostadsrätt (the right to an apartment in a building owned by a housing cooperative that is a common method of home ownership in Sweden) also have a lower monthly cost of living. In other words, those who already have money pay less per month than those who are already in a difficult financial situation.

Sweden needs policies that reduce today's class divisions, not policies that make them bigger. The right to housing should never be a class issue. The small group in society that is already in the best position is favoured by current housing policy, while us others have to pay a higher price for their right to high society neighbourhoods with a sea view.

A new, modern Million Programme (a Swedish government program where one million new homes were built between 1965 and 1975) is needed in Sweden. The state needs to finance the building of new and affordable rental housing that us young people have the right to live in. We have built one million houses before, we can do it again.

Housing built in Täby as part of the Million Programme. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

READ ALSO: This is what one million gets you from Sweden's property market

Modern, environmentally friendly housing is needed, not only in Malmö and Lund, but across all of Sweden, and the state needs to provide support and financing. A state housing company with ultimate responsibility is needed to solve the housing shortage. Today's system, where the rental market and private housing companies push up prices, has failed an entire generation, and it is time to take the housing shortage seriously.

Today, large chunks of public housing is sold despite the need for more rental contracts than ever before. MKB (Malmö Municipal Housing) is selling 1,650 houses in Rosengård for example, and rental prices are at risk of surging as a result. Private parties have been allowed to take over the housing market and we know that their desire for profit is always going to set the direction. The right to housing should not depend on a capital owner's desire to maximize profit.

READ ALSO: How Sweden's Million Programme suburbs became cool

A young person’s right to security and dignity is at risk when the housing market is deregulated.

Today's policies favour a small elite while us others are forced to live in the family home until we turn 27. We demand policies that put a young person's right to a home first.

This is a translation of an opinion piece written in Swedish by Skåne Left Party Youth member Hanna Franzén that was originally published by Sydsvenskan.

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