Politicians disagree over whether subsidizing new housing construction can solve Sweden's long-time housing shortage.

"The Main Problem is That There Aren't Enough Apartments"

For decades, finding housing in Sweden has been notoriously difficult. In Stockholm, there is such a shortage that some parents even begin enrolling their children in the housing queue for rental apartments when they are newborns, so that by the time they reach their 20s, they might be lucky enough to get a first-hand rental contract.

Otherwise, young people often sublet apartments, but this means moving frequently, since the legal subletting terms are quite short. Students in Sweden are reportedly facing the worst housing shortage ever. And looking at the larger picture, new housing construction in Sweden cannot keep up with the population growth.

 "The main thing is that there aren't enough apartments. We have to build more apartments and more buildings in general. And that has been the problem for the last decade," said Johan Löfstrand, Parliament member from the opposition Social Democrats, during a Radio Sweden debate.

Löfstrand said that even though the Alliance has managed to build the 15,000 apartments in Stockholm that they promised, it has not been enough. And he says that now the housing construction is dominated by just a few, large companies.

Löfstrand advocates bringing back government subsidies, which the Alliance took away when they came to power in 2006, to help build more dwellings in Sweden. He also said that subsidizing construction helps keep building-quality high.

Oskar Öholm, member of Parliament from the conservative Moderates, opposes subsidizing housing construction. "I think the main reason is that we've seen that it hasn't worked. If we compare Sweden to other Scandinavian countries, we can see that there have been fewer apartments built per citizen in Sweden compared to Norway and Denmark . . . We can see that Sweden has a 55 percent higher cost of building, compared to the EU average."

Öholm believes that subsidies are at fault, adding that they decrease competition and thereby raise construction costs. He also accused the Opposition of voting against almost half of the proposed building permits in Stockholm.

The politicians also debated student housing, and Stockholm's particularly acute housing shortage.

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