Are tenures between owning and renting a solution for those struggling to enter the housing market?
Skyrocketing housing prices mean that those who wish to buy a home - either because they have an explicit wish to own their home or because they do not get access to the rental market – often have to save up large sums for a down payment. This might be a challenge for young people and others with limited savings, such as lone parents, divorcees and pensioners. In a first publication in the Oslo Metropolitan University-led project Strategic Housing, a joint study between Nordregio and KTH looks into Swedish housing models between renting and owning. Two shared ownership and two cooperative rental models are analysed from legal and economic perspectives to see to what extent and subject to what risks these intermediary tenures add to housing opportunities of lower and mid-income groups. Findings indicate that buyers benefitting from the models are mainly medium-income households without large enough savings to buy into the regular housing market. For these households, the concepts might be an opportunity to access housing they could otherwise not aspire to. However, legal and financial literacy among buyers is partly limited, which should be addressed as far as possible by developers going forward. Further, legal considerations in relation to agreements in the shared ownership models and untested new variants of cooperative rental might arise as models are used and tested in the coming years. The obstacles preventing developers from expanding the concepts, mainly access to land and financing, can only be addressed by interested municipalities and financial institutions. An extensive information effort by developers and successful projects are probably needed to move towards recognition and institutionalization of the concepts. The full research paper has been published open access in the Nordic Journal of Urban Studies. Hear Anna Granath Hansson in the radio programme Plånboken on P1 and Bopolpodden.
New publication: Combatting long-term unemployment among immigrants
Nordregio researchers, in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Welfare Centre, published a new report Combatting long-term unemployment among immigrants. The publication aims to identify key policy measures, institutions, civil society actors, and initiatives that have been used to address the situation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants were more likely to face long-term unemployment than their native-born peers across all Nordic countries. The new publication describes the extent of the challenge posed by long-term unemployment among immigrants in each Nordic country before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. “The challenge ahead is to improve matching on the labour market. There are many jobs available in the Nordics. Job-seekers need up-skilling and training that meet employers’ needs,” said Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellow at Nordregio. The research highlights local practices that have proved successful in helping long-term unemployed, non-European, often poorly educated immigrants improve their skills and find work – and analyse what these practices have in common and what we can learn from them. “It’s clear that there are common traits in training programmes and initiatives that are successful in getting long-term unemployed back to work. We collected them in a ‘Checklist’ of Nordic learnings to inspire policy-makers and programme designers to make more holistic and effective programmes and avoid pitfalls,” said Åsa Ström Hildestrand, Head of Communications and Project Manager Agenda 2030 at Nordregio. (You will find the Checklist in the final chapter of the publication). The report also elucidates how long-term unemployment and labour market inactivity among immigrants have been discussed and approached at the national level in each Nordic country during and after the pandemic.
The housing of tomorrow: Boverket and Nordregio workshop
The Swedish National Board on Housing, Building, and Planning (Boverket) and Nordregio invited a group of property developers and other housing actors to discuss trends and innovation in housing development and their implications for the future. Boverket presented their project “Housing for the Future”, Nordregio researcher Anna Granath Hansson, landscape architect Annelie Mårtensson, architect Maria Teder, lawyer Assar Lindén, economist Oskar Gramstad and Ida Borg from Stockholm university discussed housing issues in Sweden. “One important input from developers was that novel concepts (or renewed use of older ones) should be applicable not only in new buildings but also in already existing ones, as new construction only accounts for around one percent of the housing stock. There was an interesting discussion on the division between the private, semi-private and public sphere in connection to cooperative and sharing solutions”, said Anna Granath Hansson. Discussions also lead to housing in relation to its neighborhood and how the built environment can contribute to goals like a sharing economy, increased robustness and the green transition. The possible alternative combinations of housing tenure, financing, and management and their relevance in the Swedish context have also been discussed. Experts gave interesting examples of flexible housing from Sweden, Finland, and Germany that might be suited to different residents based on their preferences. Nordregio and Boverket would like to thank all participants for their active contribution to discussions and for many fruitful insights that can be used in projects.
Stavanger invests in green parks to improve people’s health
In Norway, the city of Stavanger is on a mission to improve its citizens’ health and quality of life with new green spaces. The most ambitious plan revolves around a new park on the Stavanger seafront but the workplan also includes the redesign of a public park and schoolyard. The city’s inspiration has come foremost from Alnarp rehabilitation garden, a unique Swedish garden dating back to the 1980s. It was established by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to improve mental and physical health through holistic design. The city is working with the NORDGREEN project to understand how the methods and frameworks used in Alnarp garden serve the health and well-being of its users, and how this knowledge can be transferred to the projects in Stavanger. “We chose three development projects which let us scale up the ideas from the rehabilitation garden, specifically create comfortable and well-designed environments that use the existing qualities as a starting point and attract investments,” says landscape architect Martina Andersson from the city of Stavanger. Stavanger is also working together with researchers in the NORDGREEN project to stress test and compare an evidence-based framework tool with its design methods. The evidence-based design will help the city to create spaces that serve the needs of both people and nature. “We will further develop the design tool to help cities in their green space planning, based on different frameworks of green space and health analysis. We will also develop a handbook for practitioners on health and green space planning in Nordic cities”, says researcher Anna Bengtsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and part of the NORDGREEN project. Three green space projects with many demands Creating green spaces is surprisingly complex. As Andersson summarises, “Thorough research is important because we need good arguments to acquire green areas that…
New article: The economic and social impact of Covid-19
John Moodie and Nora Sánchez Gassen, Senior Research Fellows at Nordregio, published a new article on the economic and social impact of Covid-19. The article published in the ESPON magazine “TerritoriAll” provides an overview of policy responses to the pandemic. As part of the ESPON COVID-19 project, 14 case study regions in Europe were selected to provide an in-depth analysis of the regional- and local-level policy response to the pandemic. The main aim of the case study analysis was to assess whether the crisis presented a window of opportunity for regional and local institutions and actors to promote proactive spatial planning and territorial policies in relation to the just (social), green and smart transitions. Proactive policies were defined as ‘measures that try to make best use of the particular socioeconomic circumstances to further a specific regional policy and planning goal’. According to the researchers, Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the development of innovative social policies across EU regions. “The crisis has accelerated the digitalization of key public services, including new social policies targeted at societies’ most vulnerable groups, such as the delivery of healthcare for the elderly, access to online mental health support, and digital training and education for young people. The continuation and evolution of these new policy measures will be essential to help overcome the socio-economic challenges presented by the cost of living and energy crises currently engulfing Europe,” says Dr. Moodie. Read the article here (page 28).
What will be the future of remote work post-pandemic?
– Evidence suggests that increased remote work is here to stay, but a large-scale shift towards a “remote first” mindset looks unlikely, says Senior Research Fellow Linda Randall from Nordregio. She is the lead author of Nordic Knowledge Overview on remote work published this week. The mindset matters when considering the effects of remote work for different places; influencing the extent to which workers can distance themselves from their workplaces. At the same time, we do see some evidence of spatial changes. The number of daily commuters is still well below pre-pandemic levels and migration patterns suggest increased attractiveness of outer urban municipalities, smaller cities, and rural areas within commuting distance of larger cities. From a planning perspective, a range of interesting questions emerges regarding the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of increased remote work. – Most workers do not have the possibility to work remotely and, even for those who do, the advantages and disadvantages will differ between groups. An increasing tendency to split one’s time between two or more municipalities calls into question existing frameworks around taxation and service provision, Randall continues. While remote work may reduce the need for travel, more knowledge is needed about the indirect impacts before assuming favourable environmental outcomes overall. The Nordic knowledge overview was the first part of the project and now you have a chance to get involved and be part of our study’s next part: How is increased remote work effecting your municipality or region? Let us know here (you can answer in English or any Nordic language): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/planningandremotework This report is the first outcome of the project Remote work: Effects on Nordic people, places and planning 2021-2024. The project is part of the Nordic Co-operation Programme for Regional Development and Planning.