The tenants' association wrote 2023-05-21 in Svenska Dagbladet about the now abolished state investment support. Their conclusion is that the investment support worked as intended. The Swedish National Union of Students shares that image. At the same time, investment support has been politically polarizing. We believe that we need to move away from the discussion about whether or not investment support should be, and instead come up with actual solution proposals that last over time. Investment support or not - there are several ways to stimulate housing construction.
The student movement is screaming hoarse: For students, the situation on the housing market is acute. According to the Housing Agency's survey, there is a housing shortage in all major study areas. A consequence of this is that every third student chooses a place of study as a result of housing shortages, according to a report produced by the Youth Barometer on behalf of Student Housing Companies. It is also clear that the lack of housing exacerbates a social bias in recruitment, when one in four students with poorer financial conditions has opted out of a university because of the lack of housing. Of young adults living at home, 84 percent were involuntarily living at home in 2021, according to the Tenants' Association.
At the same time, the need for student accommodation is expected to increase, as a result of the new transition study support, that more people are studying in a recession, and larger future cohorts. The shovels should have been in the ground a long time ago. On the contrary, new construction has stalled, something that has been repeatedly reported over the past year. According to Byggföretagen, the loss in construction investment risks further weighing on the economy.
Sweden stands out internationally with a total absence of a housing policy for rented accommodation. For student housing construction, Sweden is the only Nordic country that lacks building subsidies or support. The government investment support led to more housing for students and also kept rents down. We could see that in the SFS housing report from 2022, where we specifically asked the student unions and municipal housing companies about the consequences of the abolition of investment support, with the answer that fewer homes were built. Concrete and more long-term answers to the housing shortage are needed that can also help students here and now. We do not want to close doors to other forms of support and incentives, and therefore want to put forward proposals to meet the decline in housing construction:
- Introduces government credit guarantees for investment loans for new construction. State credit guarantees mean that the state bears part of the risk for the loan, and it already exists for loans to electricity producers. The finance committee assessed that the guarantee business would be self-financed over time. A similar design for housing construction could facilitate the financial calculation for construction companies and thus stimulate the resumption of projects that have now been paused or closed down.
- Financial support for remodeling of existing premises. The rules for and support for redevelopment of existing premises need to be expanded to enable creative solutions for existing property holdings. It is also a prerequisite for a sustainable housing policy, to make use of the materials and foundations that are already in existing properties.
- Design a new state support for new construction of student housing based on the existing model of support for housing for the elderly. This support is designed to stimulate the construction of need-designed housing, while keeping rents low for a group with limited incomes. Students already spend a higher percentage of their income on rent than other groups. Government support for new construction should be able to be designed for students in the same way for the elderly.