Nacka Municipality in Stockholm County has landed itself in hot water for handing over the keys to three homes, worth a staggering 14 million SEK ($1.8 million), to a 57-year-old Syrian newcomer with a large family. All three homes are situated in Saltsjöbaden, a well-known Baltic Sea resort.
The revelations were bought to light after the local party Sweden Democrats Nacka (SD) issued a press release confirming what had previously only been a rumor, after searching through public records to get at the truth. The apartments are worth 5.5, 3.3 and 5.2 million SEK ($700,000, $400,000 and $650,000) respectively. Each of his three wives lives has her own place, with the kids distributed amongst them.
The case has unleashed a storm of angry comments in social media, with users wondering whether the municipality was financing polygamy and if other homeless people will be offered luxury apartments with archipelago views in Saltsjöbaden.
SD Nacka was also highly critical of the municipality's action and stressed the disparity in how ethnic Swedes and immigrants are being treated with respect to housing.
"As a common Swedish couple with children, you have a duty of maintenance regardless of whether you live together or not. As a migrant, however, you have a right to housing provided by taxpayers, subsistence allowance and establishment benefits, as well as access to our entire welfare system," SD Nacka wrote.
Earlier, Ann Heberlein, a lecturer in ethics and a Conservative member, argued that Sweden was being challenged by immigration, pointing out problems with healthcare, police, education, and, not least, housing.
"As citizens, we have a number of obligations. We also have rights — to safety and security, support and access to the welfare system. Non-citizens should not have the same rights. They have rights as a human beings, but human rights are less extensive than the civil rights," Ann Heberlein wrote in her opinion piece in the newspaper Expressen. "When citizens' and non-citizens' interest come into conflict, the citizen's interest should be given priority," she added, calling the practice of receiving economic migrants "morally indefensible."
Nevertheless, it is evident that the dramatic influx has exacerbated the housing crisis that has plagued the Nordic country over the past years. According to previous estimates, a total of 710,000 new homes will be needed in Sweden by 2025, with the demand currently peaking in the Greater Stockholm area, where it takes up to two decades to be granted a rent-controlled property.