Swedish municipalities' costs for homelessness are rising sharply, and new arrivals are over-represented, housing expert Linda Johnsson wrote, warning of an “economic and social crisis”.
Next year, she predicted in an opinion piece published in the newspaper Dagens Samhälle, that 2,700 migrants are likely to become homeless in Gothenburg, Sweden's second-largest city of 570,000 inhabitants.
According to a recent report by the construction company Veidekke, there are approximately 33,000 homeless people in Sweden. This figure includes people who are referred to shelters and various types of accommodations, as well as those sleeping in public premises, outdoors, or in stairwells. Some 62 percent of them were men. One-third of them had at least one child under the age of 18. About half of Sweden's homeless were born abroad.
In some places, such as immigrant-dense Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city, migrants make up about 70 percent of the homeless, half of whom have lived in Sweden for less than three years. Between 2015 and 2019, Veidekke noted, Malmö's homeless population has risen by 253 percent to 3,300 in a city of 330,000.
While homelessness is rising, so are the associated costs, Johnsson noted. In Malmö, the expenditure went up from 260 million ($26 million) in 2015 to SEK 600 million ($62 million) in 2018. The same trend is manifest in Gothenburg, where the costs associated with homelessness have spiked from SEK 400 million ($42 million) in 2011 to SEK 1 billion ($100 million) in 2018.
In 2015, the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning estimated municipalities' total costs to address the homeless problem at a mind-blowing SEK 5.2 billion ($550 million) per year.
Other estimates give even higher figures, suggesting that a single homeless person may cost the country up to SEK 600,000 ($63,000) per year.
Veidekke's report concluded that a new group of homeless has appeared in Sweden, who may need broader and quicker support compared with "traditional homeless”.