Taking responsibility for the right to housing

Umeå, Sweden

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
In its long-term strategic urban development, the political ambition for Umeå is to reach 200,000 inhabitants by 2050 as well the required housing construction for such a population increase. Furthermore, there is an intention to focus on urban development from a broader perspective, and the role the city of Umeå should play in the wider region, in northern Sweden and in Scandinavia. There should be no opposition between rural and urban areas, but rather Umeå should be a growth engine for the entire region and all of northern Sweden. Then, further population growth will be required in order to stimulate that prosperity.

Within the area of housing policy, one challenge has been to cooperate with architects regarding the social development of a given area, and how to find adequate housing for a fast growing population.There are several attempts to involve the architects early in the development process. But striking a balance between function, configuration and sensitivity to changing trends is a constant struggle.

Good practices & solutions

In Umeå, housing provision has long been at the heart of political priorities, primarily considering it an issue of striking a balance between existing housing stock, in-migration and house building.

Currently, Umeå is ranked highest in growth rate in Sweden, and some of the indicated factors for success have been: a comprehensive plan, a good production of local plans and a great deal of municipality owned land but also the ability to priorities.

The Municipal Housing Company AB Bostaden is Umeå’s largest actor on the housing market. It focuses on working long-term and on smart, socially and environmentally sustainable solutions.

The company emphasises accumulation of knowledge, holding introductory dialogues with relevant actors and plays an important role in meeting the municipality’s needs for housing for special groups. It uses its business plan as a regulatory document which stipulates that all aspects of sustainability should be managed and regarded as long-term programmes and not project-driven in the short term.

Outcome & opportunities

Bostaden AB is now an independent company, and therefore has a different status both on the market and in relation to the municipality as owners. Bostaden AB has also been an important part of several development and innovation projects in collaboration with the municipality and other actors. Here, the long-term knowledge built up within the company has proven very beneficial alongside the opportunity to involve Bostaden AB in other municipal activities intended to help reach overarching urbanisation targets. In addition to this, AB Bostaden has won several prizes, including the Sustainable Energy Europe Award, for its work.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Factors for success have been using tested technology, allowing residents to take part in prioritising and creating cooperative agreements with different actors.

Related SDG targets
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Project: Nordic Urban Ways