Challenge 1: Constructing new housing
The shortage of housing in Sweden has continued to increase and there is broad political agreement concerning the need to build more. Construction prices continue to increase, with Sweden’s prices being the highest in the EU. This is impeding economic growth, primarily in metropolitan municipalities. The number of refugees coming to Sweden is continuing to increase, which is making the housing shortage even more acute. In brief, the situation is very serious, affecting both individuals and society in general.
SABO will continue to place a very strong emphasis on improving the capacity of member companies to build new housing. We are primarily doing this through our work with SABO’s Kombohus; multi-dwelling buildings built under framework agreements and subject to price pressure that our members can build at a price 25 per cent lower than the general market price. SABO will also continue to place emphasis on disclosing the high level of costs within the construction industry, the lack of competition and the lack of development land with detailed development plans, primarily in metropolitan municipalities.
The overall challenge to the construction of new housing also involves continuing the work to achieve economic equilibrium between the various forms of occupancy.
Challenge 2: Sustainable renovation and improving energy efficiency
Another urgent challenge is the refurbishment of homes from the ‘record years’. These houses were built during the period 1961 to 1975 and thus include what we often refer to as ‘the Million Homes Programme’. The construction of so many buildings within a very short period of time means that the need to refurbish them coincides in time, which is causing problems among other things with the financing of this work. The refurbishment encompasses several dimensions: technical defects; more stringent official requirements (including reduced energy use); social factors and adaptation to new needs and demands. There is also a need to be able to retain to some extent a simpler standard and thus lower rent for sections of the stock.
‘Sustainable Homes’ is a project for sustainable refurbishment covering all aspects and the purpose is, like the Kombohus, to supress prices through procurements and framework agreements.
Many companies also find it difficult to arrange energy efficiency improvements in conjunction renovation work. SABO is consequently continuing its work to support companies to implement their own measures to enhance their competence, develop methods and refine techniques in respect of energy efficiency improvements.
Challenge 3: Migration and integration
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden fleeing from war and poverty in various trouble spots, primarily from Syria but also Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is expected that this number will remain high. One of the major challenges is finding homes for all asylum seekers and refugees granted a residence permit at a time when a significant shortage of housing prevails, not least for rental properties.
Public housing companies are already assuming a significant responsibility for reception by leasing accommodation centres (abo accommodation) to the Swedish Migration Agency and letting homes directly to newcomers (ebo accommodation). However, Sweden’s housing shortage, due to the construction of new housing not having met the population increase for many years, has made this work particularly difficult.
The public housing companies therefore need to cooperate with various stakeholders to be able to build and develop sustainable housing solutions for new arrivals. It has also become clear that solutions are required at a regional level: this must no longer be just a local responsibility. Dwellings and residents are connected with other welfare issues, and it is consequently important to be able to promote the rapid integration and establishment of new arrivals in the housing and labour markets.
SABO therefore launched a project in 2015 called ‘A sustainable integration strategy’ to develop methods and present concrete proposals and solutions within this area by studying good examples. SABO companies can provide many good examples of initiatives to promote integration, and the project captures these experiences to be able to establish a long-term and sustainable integration strategy for the public housing sector. Good cooperation with, among others, the Swedish Public Employment Service, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), the Swedish Migration Agency, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the Swedish National Agency for Education, the county administrative boards, municipal authorities and voluntary organisations is crucial for the success of these initiatives.