Relaunching an inadequate housing policy

Special Housing Coordinator allow coordination between different stakeholders. Stockholm, Sweden

SDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

The Stockholm region is constantly growing, which demands wider cooperation in order to create a sustainable city including housing, public transport, schools, healthcare and other social services.  Despite its large housing shortage and building challenges, Stockholm provides one example of how to reorient a policy to steer development instead of allowing the market alone to lead in its own direction. This, however, requires a leadership that is straight and concrete.

Stockholm is constantly growing. People move in from other parts of the world as well as from other regions in Sweden. This increase of population has resulted in a constant need of more housing, estimated up to 300, 000 people in need. The municipality is a large landowner but there is a shortage of available land at a necessary rate. The inner city becomes dense and only a few people can live within the city centre. At the same time the ambition is to create a mixed and versatile city.

Good practices & solutions 

The municipality aims to build an average of 8,000 apartments/year, inorder to make sure that 40,000 new homes are produced by 2020 and 140,000 by 2030. Out of these there shall be a mix of tenant-owned and rental apartments where the location or area is taken into consideration. The current administration hopes it will manage to produce a more diverse city and abandon the current order where only a few people are able to live in the city centre. This way the city proposes a concrete, quantitative goal followed by a more qualitative vision of “a city that keeps together”.

Outcome & opportunities 

A growing Stockholm region demands wider cooperation between sectors, making it possible to create a sustainable city that includes good housing, public transport, schools, healthcare and other social services. In order to achieve this and avoid unsustainable blockages with short time solutions, the private sector as well as researchers has to be involved at a early stage of the urban planning process. In certain city districts construction companies and property owners have already started to produce guidelines together. 

The current administration with the Mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngård, in the lead, think that there are more to be done in this aspect. A so-called Special Housing Coordinator has been appointed as a bridge between the city planning office and the political leadership. The coordinator has the authority to push for change, monitor development projects and decide which administration has the main responsibility. The coordinator is key in creating links between various projects and units and has proven to be very efficient in removing blockages within the systems, keeping project from falling in between departments and creating cooperation between administrations.

Lessons learned & recommendations 

Concrete targets and a Special Housing Coordinator allow the process to become more goal oriented and to accomplish coordination between different actors and stakeholders. The Mayor of Stockholm stresses that one cannot merely build apartments, but has to build a city, which is a task greater than a simple housing target

Related SDG targets

10 Reduce inequalities.

11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums

11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.

Further reading

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Project: Nordic Urban Ways