Hundreds of migrants who arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied migrants risk losing their accommodation by the start of February.
They will need to leave housing provided by the Swedish Migration Agency, as municipalities will be asked to take on the responsibility for housing and maintenance support. But the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting, SKL) cannot guarantee homes for all of those affected.
The decision applies to around 750 people who arrived in Sweden under the age of 18 and without a family member or guardian. Of these, most are covered by the so-called ‘high school law’ (gymnasielagen), which allowed rejected asylum seekers to stay in Sweden until they finished high school.
The Migration Agency pointed to a ruling from the Court of Appeal in June which established that people with right of residence but who were not covered by the Settlement Act should not be provided by accommodation or financial support from public authorities.
Although its new legal position was effective from Monday, the agency said it would not be asking the affected people to leave their homes until January 31st, 2020.
“We understand that this is very tough news for these people, since it means such big changes. That’s why we are waiting until January 31st to write it out, so that they will be able to finish the autumn school term but also have time to look for new accommodation,” said Veronika Lindstrand Kent, department head for national coordination at the Migration Agency.
“We hope that as many people as possible will be able to find their own accommodation, but if people can’t, there is a possibility to apply for assistance from the municipality,” said Lindstrand Kant.
But SKL said it cannot guarantee homes for all the affected people due to uncertainty over whether Sweden’s Social Services Act includes those who are still waiting for a residence permit.
“Of course it is worrying that the legal framework is so complicated that some young people will end up in a gap between obtaining a residence permit and being forced to leave the Migration Agency housing,” said Fredrik Lennartsson, head of the department for care and welfare at SKL. “We are analyzing the issue and will come back to the municipalities with our answer.”