Housing policy has set its sights on the wrong target

The prediction by the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) that we need to build 700,000 new homes is based on a weak premise. As is a desire expressed by the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) for 200,000 new leasehold flats. That number is mainly a shot in the dark.

IVA’s housing policy seminar in Almedalen attracted a large audience. The majority of those in attendance work in urban development on a daily basis. This was revealed by a show of hands requested by the seminar moderator Åsa Söderström Jerring at the beginning of the discussion.

Many of the speakers and audience members at the seminar expressed big doubts about Boverket’s prediction of the need for 700,000 new homes.

Alf Karlsson is State Secretary at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications.

“The most important thing is where and how people will live and how they will be able to afford a home. People are concerned that it will not be possible to sell or lease the homes being built,” he said.

The Government is therefore focusing on finding ways to reduce costs. The pace of new construction is high.

“The new homes being built need to be of good quality. Unfortunately there are unsettling signs that this is not always the case.”

Alf Karlsson thinks it’s important to make better use of the housing stock that already exists. But a study conducted by the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) shows that people are not all that willing to help house more people by renting out a room in their home.

There is a big shortage of small, inexpensive leasehold flats. According to Jonas Nygren, head of the Swedish Union of Tenants, this is true across all municipalities. This organisation has therefore concluded that 200,000 new leasehold flats are needed.

“But we don’t really know how much construction is needed. This statistic is just a shot in the dark,” said Jonas Nygren, who would like to see a more cohesive housing policy.

The prediction by the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) that we need to build 700,000 new homes is based on a weak premise. As is a desire expressed by the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) for 200,000 new leasehold flats. That number is mainly shot in the dark.