Löfven attacks profiteering during refugee crisis
As the government scrambles to find housing for a record number of asylum seerkers, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven voiced sharp criticism of the private companies that profit on the refugee crisis in an interview published Sunday morning.
Speaking with daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter about his first year in office, Löfven said more specifically about the refugee crisis that "Sweden is making a great effort." But he continued, "And then we have others who systematically take in rent and, surely also, make big profits in this situation. It's strange, and I get very disappointed."
Löfven specifically referred to media reports that Swedish municipalities can pay over SEK 60,000 a month to house unaccompanied refugee minors in apartments set up to help them transition to their own residence when they come of age. Daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that unaccompanied minors can live in a so-called HVB home until they are 21, but when they turn 18 they may opt to find their own residence. Municipalities then can offer a transitional residence.
But in a written statement released last week about the media reports, one of the companies mentioned, Aleris, claimed that "rent" was a misleading designation in the matter because the municipality's payment included food, internship possibilities, coaching assistance, and other services. Aleris also claimed that 60,000 kronor was a price for a person with greater care needs, and a normal contract would call for compensation of about SEK 45,000 per month.
Nevertheless, in his interview Löfven questioned the sum.
"The message is: Think about it. We should make this effort in Sweden together. Is it then optimal to take 60,000 kronor in rent for an apartment? Think about it," underscored Löfven.
And asked what the government might do to mitigate price gouging in the refugee sector, Löfven described the underlying problem.
"It's the lack of housing that makes this possible," he said. "I'm not asking anyone to give away housing for free. But it can't be the other extreme either."
And Löfven said he was appealing to a sense of societal duty:
"There's definitely a social morality in this," he said. "We're not just a collection of people in the same geographic area. Social morality is the glue of society.... have to contribute and do my part, but then I also have rights. That's what builds a strong Sweden."