Iceland May Be Facing Housing Crisis - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland May Be Facing Housing Crisis

Published February 8, 2018

Photos by
Art Bicnick

17,000 apartments will be needed in Iceland by the end of 2019, according to a new report from the Housing Financing Fund (HFF), and parliament is struggling to find answers.

Iceland’s housing market was the subject of intense debate in parliament today, RÚV reports. Björn Leví Gunnarsson, an MP for the Pirate Party, cited HFF’s report, pointing out that 17,000 apartments is roughly equivalent to 42,000 people. In real life terms, he said, “We need to build a new Kópavogur and Akranes to meet the gathering demand,” referring to two of Iceland’s largest municipalities.

Numerous other MPs chimed in on the matter, amongst them Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason, who said he believes tackling the housing crisis requires long-term planning to prevent a repeat of the extreme ups and downs Iceland’s housing market has experienced over the past two decades.

Guðjón S. Brjánsson, an MP for the Social Democrats, pointed out that this is not just a matter of Reykjavík, either. On the contrary, in many parts of the countryside, no new housing has been built in the past ten years – a point that Left-Green MP Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir seconded.

A large part of the problem appears to be a lack of any clear idea when it comes to responsibility. Bryndís Haraldsdóttir, an MP for the Independence Party, raised the question as to why so many ministries have a hand in influencing the housing market, as opposed to there being simply one ministry devoted solely to housing.

In short, members of parliament seem to be in agreement that Iceland is facing a housing crisis and something needs to be done. What, and how, still remain to be seen.


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