As voters head to the polls in the Netherlands on Wednesday, housing, in particular a lack of affordable homes, has become the key issue for a majority of voters.
With as many as 390,000 homes needed across the country, concerns over the issue have reached a tipping point.
“It is the most important issue, I think, because it was neglected for a long time,” Peter Kanne, a senior researcher at I&O Research in the Netherlands said in an interview.
“So, we have a lot of people, young people, older people, of course, also a lot of migrants who need a house in this country.
“All the parties think it’s very important. The voters think it’s very important, but there is no one party that has the solution that voters say: ‘This is the best solution’.”
According to Professor Peter Boelhouwer from Delft University of Technology, several factors have created a “perfect storm”, including the high number of houses needed for people living in the Netherlands.
“The reason is that we didn’t build so much housing in the last ten years. So, we had a drop in housing production and we had a quite steep increase in the population because of migration, especially labour migration, which is quite high,” Boelhouwer said.
“And last year we had, of course, people from Ukraine, but it’s especially labour migration.
“So, there’s much more demand for housing nowadays than ten years ago and we produce less housing, so that gives a shortage.”
In Amsterdam, there are around 3,000 so-called economically homeless people who have a job and an ordinary life, but cannot find new accommodation after a change of circumstance — such as a break-up — due to skyrocketing prices on the housing market.
A programme in the Dutch capital called “Onder de Panna” by the non-profit association De Regenboog helps these people by matching their needs with homeowners who have rooms to spare and can rent one at a modest price, between €250 and €600 per month.
“We try to give them a temporary spot to regain energy, get out of the survival mode of having this stress and constantly thinking: Where am I going to sleep? How am I going to keep my job if I cannot shower? Where am I going to cook my food? How am I going to survive this?,” Tamara Kuschel, a project coordinator at De Regenboog told Euronews.
“We try to give them, at least for 12 months, a solid spot to get rest and help them to find to make plans for the future.”
De Regenboog also tries to accommodate people in empty offices or houses to be renovated or demolished. In Amsterdam, renting a flat can be very difficult, but buying it can prove impossible, with asking prices for a 60 square metre house going for as much as €600,000.
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