The facade of a block of flats.
Many of the short-term contracts expire next year. Credit: Anders Ahlgren/SvD/TT

Thousands of new immigrants risk losing homes

4:48 min

Thousands of newly arrived immigrants are set to lose their housing early next year as their two year "establishment phase" ends. Swedish charity Save the Children believes this will exacerbate an already serious problem.

"It is short-sighted and a way (for the local councils) to try to push the responsibility onto somebody else," says Tove Samzelius, who works with child poverty issues at Save the Children (Rädda Barnen) in Sweden.

Tove Samzelius of Save the Children has already seen examples of this, but fears the problem will get worse next year, when many short-term housing contracts taken on by the local councils are set to expire.

The first of the housing contracts concerned date back to March 2016, when a new law came into effect which forced local councils to receive and arrange housing for a certain number of new immigrants. Before that, it had been possible for local councils to refer to a lack of housing as a way to justify why they were not able to take in more refugees who had been given residency permits.

But this was seen as unsustainable, as a small number of municipalities ended up taking the lions' share of refugees, and so the government agreed with the centre-right opposition that local councils could be forced into sharing the responsibility of housing refugees.

Next spring, two years will have passed since the first refugees were assigned to the more reluctant local councils, and now several of them say their responsibility to house the new immigrants is also coming to an end.

"The local councils are obliged to offer housing during two years. And after those two years have ended, the local council can no longer guarantee that there is accommodation," said Frida Plym Forshell, of Nacka local council near Stockholm, adding that this means people will simply have to vacate the accommodation after two years.

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