A damning new report suggests that Sweden’s integration policies are failing migrants, who now account for almost 50 percent of the country’s rising homeless population.
The average homeless person costs the Swedish state up to SEK 600,000 ($63,000) per year according to housing expert Linda Jonsson, who warned of an impending “economic and social crisis.”
“It is mainly about new arrivals who have not been able to establish themselves and lack sufficient income,” says Jonsson.
Jonsson predicted that some 2,700 migrants are likely to become homeless next year in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city.
According to a recent report by the construction company Veidekke, Sweden’s total homeless population hovers around the 33,000 figure, which includes those in shelters, various forms of emergency accommodation as well as those sleeping rough on the streets and in public parks.
Of this number, some 62 percent were men and approximately one half were foreign-born. One third of the country’s homeless population had at least one child under the age of 18.
Immigrants account for approximately 70 percent of the homeless population in Malmo, half of whom have only been in the country for less than three years. The city’s homeless population has risen by some 253 percent between 2015 and 2019 and now accounts for one percent of its total population.
As homelessness in the country rises, so too do the costs associated with the social issue. In Malmo alone, expenditure went from SEK 260 million ($26 million) in 2015 to SEK 600 million ($62 million) in 2018, with Gothenburg more than doubling its own homelessness expenditure, from roughly $42 million to $100 million between 2011 and 2018.
Jonsson points to a failing integration policy and the inability to get migrants into the labor market effectively, as well as to abrupt cuts in homeless services, which also reduce the likelihood that migrants could hold down a steady job even if they managed to get one.
Municipalities are also forced to rent accommodation for homeless persons from private intermediaries, which inflates the cost far beyond the price of providing apartments from their own municipal portfolios.
Solutions are few and far between and the future for Sweden’s homeless crisis looks bleak.