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Housing

Stockholm’s ‘Housing for All’ Is Now Just for the Few

Soaring demand for rent-controlled housing in the Swedish capital has left many residents at the mercy of an expensive, sometimes dangerous sublet market.

Evening sunlight illuminates residential apartment buildings on the Sickla Kanal in the Hammarby Sjostad district in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2021. 

Evening sunlight illuminates residential apartment buildings on the Sickla Kanal in the Hammarby Sjostad district in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2021. 

Photographer: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg

When Ida Jonsson woke up on her 18th birthday, her first act as an adult — before voting or getting a drink — was to participate in a ritual for many Stockholm natives: signing up on the city’s lengthy waiting list for public housing. 

Now 25, Jonsson only moved into her apartment a year ago. And she counts herself as fortunate: Not everyone is as well informed as her on the urgency of signing up for a rent-controlled apartment as soon as legally possible. “A lot hangs on the people around you and for them to tell you to put yourself in the queue,” Jonsson says. “It’s a shame because a lot of people put themselves in the queue only a few days too late and it can make a huge difference.”