Big Challenges Await the Board of Småland Nation Housing

Big Challenges Await the Board of Småland Nation Housing

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Smålands Nation. Photo: Archive

Mismanagement, remarks on fire safety and a reporting from their own staff. It has been turbulent around Småland Nation and their housing foundation SNB for a month. Now, the new SNB board is going to take on the issues.

Text: Filip Rydén – Translation: Rebecka McKinnon Forsell

Småland’s issues started already in September 2016, when the fire safety of the nation received remarks and the maximum capacity of the club was lowered from 420 people to 150.
Småland Nation Housing (SNB) was put in charge of taking care of the problems, but after some ten months, there is still no news about when the capacity can return to normal. If the club is not allowed to be filled, the nation is missing one of its more important sources of income.
“What is needed now is a new fireproof door and a ramp for wheelchairs, and it is something we are discussing right now with the city’s building committee,” says Carl-Gustaf Jönsson, new chairperson of the SNB board.

A lack in maintenance in the nation’s housing has also been revealed. Extensive renovations are needed and will begin in the summer of 2017. The foundation has even faced large unforeseen expenses during spring in terms of back taxes and a previously miscalculated invoice from VA Syd.
However, the foundation is short on money and needs a bank loan in order to cope with the issues, and that is not yet in place. In late 2016, a raise in rent was announced for the first time in years – of 20%.

Employees Wrote a Report
SNB employees didn’t think the problems they were conveying were being taken seriously. A previous employee that Lundagård has spoken to says that during 2013, he tried to convince the board to take care of the problems with the fireproof door. Yet nothing was done during the three years that went by before the fire safety was tried and failed.
Despite a clear need and a more or less decided plan of action, the SNB board was unable to make decisions. Nine out of twelve board members resigned during the fall of 2016, some after just a few weeks on the post.
In February this year, the employees reported the foundation for mismanagement. There were mentions of liquidity crisis, delay in crucial decisions and problems in work environment as grounds for inspection in the report. Even the fact that the board was not in quorum was written in the report to Länsstyrelsen.
The Board Was Exchanged
In the middle of March in 2017, a new board was appointed. It was now made up of more experienced people with less attachment to the nation. Chairperson of the board is Carl-Gustaf Jönsson, an older man who has been described by many of the people Lundagård has spoken to as “able to act”.
“We have an almost entirely new board, with one deputy member left from the old one. The staff is also back on the board,” says Carl-Gustaf Jönsson.

With a new board in place, Länsstyrelsen has now cancelled the inspection. David Olsson, in charge of the investigation, thinks that it is now up to the new board to handle the situation.
“We have a continuing supervision of all the foundations, but since the board is now in quorum, the responsibility is in their hands,” says David Olsson.

The first step for the new board is to get the bank loans that the foundation was preapproved for last fall, and after that the renovations can start which will go on for several years. An announcement has been sent out to the residents that the rent will be raised with 15 to 20% in September.
“The rent is still considerably lower than AF-Bostäder’s, which is the target in this situation,” says Carl-Gustaf Jönsson.

Uncertain Future
Måns Henriksson, administrator at SNB, was one of the people behind the report. According to him, many of the problems was because of certain board members, whom have now resigned. He stresses that the situation they have created is dangerous and that it will take a lot of work to fix the problems.
Carl-Gustaf Jönsson agrees, but is convinced that the problems in SNB is now in the past.
“I would not have taken on the task if I was not sure it would work. I am not affiliated with Småland Nation, he says and adds: We have to look at this positively. The rear-view mirror is smaller than the front window, so now we look forward and fix this.”

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