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'Sweden needs 600,000 new homes by 2025,' top housing agency says

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'Sweden needs 600,000 new homes by 2025,' top housing agency says
Sweden is building thousands of new homes each year, but experts say it is not enough. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
11:31 CET+01:00
Sweden, which for decades has been battling a housing crisis, needs to build 600,000 new homes by 2025 to sufficiently accommodate its growing population, the country's top housing agency said on Wednesday.

In a new report from the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket), Sweden needs to significantly ramp up its home construction in the next few years, or the country's housing crisis risks worsening even more.

"Sweden needs to build 600,000 homes by 2025 to satisfy the need," it stated.

Anders Sjelvgren, the head of the agency, warned of the consequences Sweden could face unless more housing is made available.

"It's important that enough is constructed, otherwise it will have consequences such as overcrowding, market price hikes, more homeless people and making it more difficult for young people to leave their parents' home," he said.

According to the national statistics agency Statistics Sweden, 53,500 new homes were built last year. But Sjelvgren said it is not nearly enough, especially as the nation's population has surged in the past few years.

"Home construction is high, but the need is greater. According to Boverket's calculations, around 80,000 homes should be constructed per year," he said.

IN DEPTH:

In the second half of 2017, Boverket said that 255 of Sweden's 290 municipalities were subject to a housing shortage – the highest number since the agency started recording such figures.

Between 2015 and 2017 alone, the number of municipalities reporting shortages increased by 72. And according to Boverket's latest figures, the trend isn't expected to change any time soon.

So what are the underlying reasons for the crisis?

According to experts The Local spoke to for an in-depth story on the issue last year, said a lot of it stems from the early 1990s, when Sweden was hit by a severe credit crunch.

"Some regard the main cause as the retrenchment of the state from the housing question, others regard the state interventions as the cause," Malmö University's Martin Grander, whose research specializes in housing and housing inequality, told The Local at the time.

"The truth is probably found somewhere in between. Incremental changes in policies, legislation and development since the 1990s have made it beneficial for households to own their house and for housing constructors to construct a certain type of housing: villa houses and cooperative-owned flats (known as bostadsrätter in Swedish). It has become less beneficial to construct affordable housing meanwhile, and rental apartments, if built, are directed at high income households," he added.

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Bo Söderberg, head of housing market analysis at Boverket, added that Sweden's population growth has caught up with the cooled rate of production however, and some groups are more vulnerable to it than others.

"The section of the population that's growing – young people and immigrants – is almost by definition in a poorer economic situation. They have less time in the queue for state or municipal housing, they have less money, and some are unemployed, so by definition their problems can't be solved by building in standard, market-defined terms as we have until now."

According to a recent report by the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen), almost a quarter of young people aged between 20 and 27 still live with their parents – the highest number since the figures were first recorded in 1997, when the proportion was 15 percent.

Only 57 percent of people in that age bracket have their own home either through a first-hand rental contract or a bostadsrätt – the lowest measured proportion ever.

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