BSC Summit

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sweden’s Cheap Modular Housing a Total Flop

Sweden's plan to plug the widening housing gap with cheap modular houses raised experts' eyebrows when it was first presented amid the raging migrant crisis of 2015. Almost two years later, experts' skepticism proved to be justified, as modular housing schemes not only received a giant price tag, but were also paralyzed by neighbor conflicts.
 
In 2015, many experts warned the Swedish government that then-Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan's idea of bridging the housing shortage with "cheap" modular homes would not only be expensive, but actually of no help in alleviating the housing crisis.

Today, all criticism of the ill-conceived system seems to be justified, as the "quick" modular houses clearly failed to become the solution the Swedish government and municipalities had been hoping for.

Taking a closer look at what is happening in the US with regard to cheap modular “Tiny Houses” and shipping containers converted to house the homeless, illegal immigrants and those that can’t find affordable housing, we could find ourselves following the same well intentioned path as Sweden has done and probably with the same results.

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Typical West Coast answer to homeless and affordable housing
Strains on public services, neighborhood discontent, little pride of ownership and higher than budgeted costs for local and state governments will happen more quickly here as the sheer scale of what is being proposed is significantly more than Sweden.

The construction of modular houses has also been stopped in Gothenburg. Of the 1,000 modular homes slated for construction, only 57 have been completed. Additionally, complaints about sky-high rents and neighbors' noise are being heard. In the only modular block built so far, a three-roomer of 750 square feet costs about $2,400 per month, most of which is picked up by the government.

"It has become more difficult to build temporary houses than to build a permanent house. We have a precarious position. The state and municipalities have not worked in sync," Jahja Zeqiraj of the Gothenburg Property Board said.

The US has a large manufactured housing industry with capacity to build affordable homes but manufactured HUD homes are finding it harder than ever to find areas large enough to develop into mobile home communities, especially in city locations where they would be the perfect way to help with the affordable home crisis.

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Typical Manufactured Housing Community 
Which would be more appealing for people looking for affordable housing, this HUD community or the West Coast Tiny House village? And which would be safer?

The modular housing industry in this country could help with affordable housing problems but with both commercial and custom modular sales on the increase there is little incentive to take on the ‘affordable’ problem. 

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