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Bertil Ericson / TT
Even Kiruna Municipality in the far north, whose population had been decreasing, reports a housing shortage. Credit: Bertil Ericson / TT

Municipalities all over Sweden report home shortage

"There's almost nothing for sale, which is a huge problem"
3:26 min

Sweden's housing shortage isn't only affecting cities. A record number of municipalities around the country now report a deficit.

A Swedish Television news investigation found that 250 of the country's 290 municipalities were experiencing a housing shortage. The number has doubled in only five years.

"We're having a substantial population increase at the moment. In the short term that will exacerbate problems in the housing market so more experience a housing shortage," said Bengt Hansson, an analyst at Boverket (National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) speaking with SVT.

The number of municipalities reporting a shortage was only 126 in 2011. That number jumped to 184 last year. SVT found that only three municipalities reported a surplus: Haparanda in the far north, Åsele in central-northern Sweden, and Hultsfred in the south-west. There were only 37 municipalities that reported a balanced housing market.

Bo Söderberg, who manages the analytics department at Boverket, told SVT that he expects the number of municipalities reporting a problem to grow. And he said the influx of asylum seekers during the year was a contributing factor.

In order to keep pace with the country's population increase, 700,000 new homes need to be built in the next decade, according to Boverket's latest analysis. Currently the country is on pace to build only half the number of those homes.

Cross-party talks were begun in February to discuss ways to alleviate the housing shortage. Politicians have variously suggested reforms to mortgage-interest tax deductions, a market rent system, construction subsidies and a capital gains tax as ways to stimulate home construction.

Avesta Municipality in Dalarana, about a 2-hour train ride north-west from Stockholm, had reported a balanced housing market until last year and as the result of a population increase. Currently with about 30,000 people, most of whom live in Avesta town, the municipality was able to stanch a slow bleed of residents since the 1960s by instituting a jobs program that ran from 2012 to 2015.

Sussannan Kippo, an analyst who work for Avesta Municipality, told Radio Sweden that about 30 percent of the population increase is attributed to immigrants and the rest to Swedes from other parts of the country. The municipal construction company can't keep pace with the growing demand for homes, and Avesta faces competition in trying to attract external builders because there is a demand for construciton around the country.

"It's not really until we have a severe housing shortage together with a strong population increase that we can really interest those building companies to come to Avesta and build," said Kippo.

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