Thousands of newcomers in Sweden at risk of homelessness

Thousands of newcomers in Sweden at risk of homelessness
File photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
Thousands of newcomers to Sweden risk becoming homeless in Sweden in spring next year, as many municipalities are struggling to find housing for new arrivals.

Those people with short-term employment contracts are at greatest risk of losing their home, according to Sveriges Radio Ekot.

Since March 2016, Sweden's municipalities have been tasked with providing accommodation for some 60,000 new arrivals to the country who had been granted asylum.

This was part of the Settlement Act, introduced as a response to the huge numbers of refugees, and although there's no official deadline written into Swedish law, most municipalities linked it to the Establishment Agreement, a two-year period during which new arrivals are entitled to free Swedish language and job preparation classes.

This means that in March next year, the first of these housing contracts will expire, raising the question of where their inhabitants – an estimated 15,000 people – will live after that deadline. The situation will be particularly difficult for those not in employment when the contract expires.

“My view is that all municipalities are facing the same problem. There are relatively few [new arrivals] who have managed to get their own homes,” Jesper Schönberg from Haninge municipality told Sveriges Radio.

According Per-Arne Andersson, Head of the Education and Labor Department at Sweden's Municipalities and County Council (SKL), around 100,000 people will be in need of housing in 2018, including the 60,000 already covered by the Settlement Act as well as those who are moved from Migration Agency facilities this year and the next, after having asylum applications approved.

About 50 to 60 percent of the municipalities say that they are in a good position to manage the housing situation, Andersson told TT, but the others have reported “great difficulties”.

The majority of Swedish municipalities were facing a housing shortage before the 2015 migration crisis, with only one municipality saying that it had a surplus of housing in 2017.

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