Sweden: ‘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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Published by: The Local (16 May 2017)
Written by: Hanna Franzén (Sydsvenskan)

Learn More

Personal Data Protection Policy

International Union of Tenants (IUT) will use the information you provide on this form to provide you updates on policies, events, publications and research related to our activities. This data is also used to customize your experience of our website and to improve our services.

At any time you have the right to access, correct and delete your personal information and object to the processing of your personal information. You can use these rights by sending an e-mail to the following address info@iut.nu.

International Union of Tenants (IUT) undertakes to respect and protect your personal information and personal integrity in accordance with applicable laws, industry rules and other relevant standards. We never disclose your personal information to third parties without your consent.