Tag Archives: housing crisis

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR TUESDAY: Vacant housing, full cabins, Bruktikken reopens, MOSAiC researchers reenter spooky world after four isolated months and more

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This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of researchers walking to the Polarstern frozen in the ice north of Svalbard courtesy of the Alfred Wegener Institute. 

It’s no joke – for those looking for a place to live in Longyearbyen starting in April there’s a realistic possibility of vacancies.

Among the reasons that’s not a joke, of course, is it’s no laughing matter the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic – even though there remains no officially diagnosed cases in Svalbard as of midday Tuesday – include people being forced from their homes and/or Longyearbyen because of the massive tourism and other layoffs. As a result listings for shared rooms and apartments are popping up during what’s normally a peak demand period – although for the past year or so there’s often been nothing available even during “slow” periods.

HOUSING HAVES VS. HAVE-NOTS: Controversy about crisis-level shortage in Longyearbyen, proposal for government to take over as landlords raised during prime minister’s visit

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Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said climate change “has had quite a large cost for Svalbard” during her visit to the archipelago this week. But some locals saying they’re paying the price in more ways than one – notably a crisis-level housing shortage that has many panicking about the immediate problem of merely having shelter during the coldest months of the year– due to hypocritical policies her government is pursing that are making the situation worse.

DEMOLITION OF ‘RED ZONE’ HOMES BEGINS: 21 residential buildings in Lia scheduled to be torn down by next June

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The long-delayed demolition of about 140 Longyearbyen residences considered unsafe to live in because they’re exposed to high avalanche and landslide risks began Tuesday and is scheduled to be completed by next June, according to officials.

BUILDING THE ECONOMY UP: Economic activity in Svalbard increases 11.4 percent in 2018, due largely to construction

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The past few years of economic and literal destruction in Longyearbyen due to the near elimination of mining as a cornerstone industry and existing homes due to risks caused by climate change has paved the way for a strong rebound in economic activity, as total gross income for Svalbard increased 11.4 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, Statistics Norway reported Thursday.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of June 18, 2019

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Demolition of more than 140 residences in avalanche homes delayed until at least end of summer, new rules for passenger ships in Svalbard pose hardship for operators of older dayboats and Svalbard’s biggest drinking contest is again underway.

SHORT-TERM GAIN, LONG-TERM PAIN: A dozen evacuated ‘red zone’ homes can again be occupied until winter, but dozens more may join demolition list due to avalanche exposure

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Good news: a dozen apartments can now be occupied during the next several months just in time for the many employees arriving for the start of summer cruise ship season next week. Bad news: the list of about 140 residences scheduled for demolition beginning as soon as this month due to their avalanche exposure may add another 41 units because previous hopes of protecting them may be unfeasible.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 23, 2019

11-year-old with lymphoma got life-threatening misdiagnosis from local hospital, mother says
Sander Higraff, 11, was recently declared cancer-free after six months of chemotherapy at an Olso hospital, but an incorrect diagnosis by Longyearbyen and Tromsø doctors lasting ten months after his condition first appeared in 2015 could have been fatal, said his mother, Kristin Woxholth.

CONCRETE PROMISE: Here’s how crazy Longyearbyen’s housing market is: Somebody bought this uninhabitable historic building in an avalanche zone for 1.4M kroner

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The government says it’s illegal to live there and even if you could it’s in a high-risk avalanche zone (several occurred in the immediate vicinity during the past week, wrecking a hillside cable tower and spilling across a road that had to be closed). But, hey, it’s nicely furnished and has cultural heritage site status, so whoever just paid 1.4 million kroner for it has some nice bragging rights even if – like the previous owners – they’re forced to live elsewhere.

MASS DESTRUCTION: Demolition of 142 avalanche-zone homes; 553M kr. for new housing, protective measures gets final OK

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After three years of dealing with the enormous physical and emotional scars inflicted on Longyearbyen by a deadly avalanche, local leaders unanimously approved an emergency security plan Monday that will cause a far greater imprint by demolishing 142 homes in at-risk areas while spending 553 million kroner for new housing and protective measures.

OVERNIGHT STORM TRIGGERS EVACUATION OF LIA: Dozens of homes vacated due to avalanche risk – most until at least next spring

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They spent the day digging and trudging through boot-deep snow from an overnight storm, only to get a cold shock when they were informed at 5 p.m. they had an hour to vacate their homes due to the the risk of avalanches – and most won’t be able to return until at least next spring.