Estate agents and other property vendors in Sweden have come up with a new way to sell office space in a tough economy; they simply advertise that the spaces could be used to house migrants.
Reaction to the ads, which were placed online on sites such as blocket.se, were extremely critical reports local.se. “This is both outrageous and frivolous. People forced to flee their homes should not become a market for opportunists. They should be received with seriousness and long-term aims,” said Christina Höj Larsen, the immigration spokesperson for the Swedish Left party.
Larsen added, “The state should be responsible for for the procurement of things like modular homes and municipalities should be hiring facilities to the Migration Agency,” and said “a state-driven solution such as this would be fantastic. At the moment, anyone can wheel and deal, which is going to be expensive and affect quality in the long term.”
Many of the properties advertised on blocket.se are being sold for around 100,000 Swedish kronor or £8473 with descriptions in the listings of how the properties could be used for asylum accommodation if desired.
Some in the Swedish parliament applauded the effort by Swedes to think outside of a government solution to the housing shortage for migrants. Liberal MP Emma Carlsson Lofdahl said that in a time of crisis the Swedish people must use every resource they are able to in order to ease the shortage of accommodation.
She told Swedish press, “when you own certain kinds of properties it is not wrong to talk about what they can be used for,” and added, “maybe some people do want to profit form the refugee crisis, but there are also those that want to help. We should help the serious ones in order to solve the current housing crisis. At the same time, it is the Migration Agency’s responsibility to control contracts and authorization.”
Cecile Holm of the Inspectorate for Health and Care also told Swedish press that anyone who wishes to convert a property into a home for migrants must seek the proper permissions from the government in order to make sure the standards are up to what migrants may need. She said, “you can certainly sell a property saying it can be used as asylum accommodation, but this does not mean that the buyer can open it without permission.” While officially this is the case, it was reported last month that an asylum centre for underage migrants was able to operate for quite some time without permission until it was finally shut down.
The housing shortage in Sweden was a problem before the migrant crisis began last year and now has been pushed to the brink. Even luxury cruise ships have been commandeered to house migrants because the Swedish government simply does not have the resources to house the massive amounts of migrants that have flooded across the borders over the past year.