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Cooperative solution to youth housing in Sweden

Riksbyggen comes up with a new plan to address an alarming phenomenon

Göteborg, 30 October 2017 | Social, Urban, Economy, Energy
From the citizen dialogue meetings © Riksbyggen
From the citizen dialogue meetings © Riksbyggen

In a country that faces an overall housing shortage, the youth is one of the population groups that are struck the most. Housing Europe Swedish, cooperative member, Riksbyggen has taken an initiative in Göteborg that may prove to be a game changer.

According to the Swedish Association of Tenants in 2017, 24,3% of the group young adults in Sweden (20-27 years old) still lives at home. This is approximately 260,300 persons. 81,8% of these wants to move but is having a hard time finding a rental apartment or lacks the money to purchase a condominium. This means 213,000 young adults is unwillingly still living in their parents’ home in Sweden. At the same time, the country manages to build just 61,000 new homes per year, while it should more than 70,000 to address urgent housing needs.

Within this context, Riksbyggen is putting the cooperative scheme forward to provide with solutions that respect young adults’ expectations. 250 small apartments will be built and will be offered to people 18-30 years with limited financial resources who will have the chance to live in the city center of Göteborg. The main objective of this new development is exactly to offer to young adults who cannot afford such a lifestyle despite having a stable job. Project Manager, Pierre Strömbäck says that “this is the first time that we plan a cooperative housing concept like this, specifically targeting young people”.

The innovative element in the project has to do with the co-productive procedure that is followed in all phases of planning. An e-mail has been sent to all 36,000 young adults who are part of the rental housing waiting list in Göteborg, asking who wants to participate in planning future housing for young people. 500 of them replied, turning themselves into the first applicants. 4 citizen dialogue meetings have already taken place bringing together 50 participants, while a questionnaire will be sent to gather feedback concerning the exact needs and expectations from the apartments.

Pierre Strömbäck explains how this is going to work in practice: “we are talking about cooperative rental housing, which means that residents will form a cooperative. This will operate with shares that require an initial payment of 20-30,000 Euros that will have to be sold back to the cooperative when somebody decides to move out. Riksbyggen will be on the board of this new cooperative to help with maintenance and all kinds of practical issues.” Regarding financing, Pierre says that Riksbyggen is exploring the potential for financial support from the State, but as we speak the idea is get a loan from commercial banks along with a credit guarantee offered by the Swedish housing authority.

As far as the challenges are concerned, Pierre highlights that whereas the legal structure has been an issue, the actual difficulty has been to keep the whole project affordable. This is why Riksbyggen is partnering up with construction companies, researchers at Chalmers and Gothenburg University, the municipality of Gothenburg and other organisations working with development of services in circular economy, aiming to turn them into partners of the project. “Together with strategic partners we can achieve more. Cooperation is key to success, no matter what you aim for”.  

Construction is expected to start in the end of 2019, which in the end is supposed to be the final touch. Until then, a lot of work has to be done in making sure that the development reflects young people’s wishes so that it will pave the way for the future. Riksbyggen seems to be on the right track for that.

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