State helps fund new student housing

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The government’s education ministry has agreed to allocate NOK 359 million (USD 60 million) to help fund student housing projects around the country. The funding, tough, will only address some of the demand for affordable residential units.

Student housing density will increase at Kringsjå, at the end of the Sognsvann metro line in Oslo. Here's one of the proposals for additional housing from MDH Architects. PHOTO: MDH

Student housing density will increase at Kringsjå, at the end of the Sognsvann metro line in Oslo. Here’s one of the proposals for additional housing from MDH Architects. PHOTO: MDH

“We have chosen to allocate around three-fourths of the funds to the areas where demand is the greatest,” Education Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen of the Conservative Party announced in  a press release on Monday. “At the same time we see there is a need for more student housing other places in the country.”

More than 14,000 students are on waiting lists for state-subsidized housing around the country. Current supply only accommodates about one-seventh of the demand, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

“We have a goal of building more student housing,” Isaksen said, adding that it was important for the state student housing association (Studentsamskipnaden in the various cities around Norway where there are colleges and universities) to maintain  its momentum in finding available property and developing projects.

Most of the new student housing is expected to be built in Oslo (276 units), Trondheim (174) and Bergen (140). Stavanger, Nordland County are next in line with 93 and 105 units respectively, followed by Agder, Vestfold, and Ås, Stord/Haugesund, Finnmark and Troms, Telemark, Østfold, Sogn og Fjordane and Buskerud.

The student housing association in Oslo, SiO, is currently finishing up the latest phase of new construction at Sogn Studentby, which has been renovated and expanded. Newspaper Aftenposten reported recently that 148 units, 73 of them new, will be ready by Easter.

As many as 4,000 new student housing units are to be built in Oslo by 2020. Around 1,000 are finished and 1,400 will be built between the 2,500 already existing at Kringsjå in Oslo. SiO also has plans for more student housing projects at Storo, Sandaker, Tøyen, and several other locations around Oslo.

“We’ve been working hard to find appropriate vacant lots and old buildings that can be rebuilt,” Trond Bakke, director of SiO, told Aftenposten. Several earlier projects have been highly innovative, such as building student housing units inside a former grain silo near the popular Grünerløkka district of Oslo.

Demand, though, seems destined to always exceed supply and projects take time to materialize. The 1,400 units and higher density planned for Kringsjå, for example, is still working its way through the approvals process, with construction unlikely to start before 2015 at the earliest.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund