The Netherlands: protests against housing shortages

Roughly 8,000 citizens demonstrated against the housing shortage in Rotterdam on Sunday. Protests over the lack of affordable housing have already taken place in other cities across the country. Commentators point out that measures beyond government proposals to build new housing will be needed to tackle the problem effectively.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Put unpopular issues on the agenda

Fiscal policy is also exacerbating the housing shortage, NRC points out:

“There is little wrong with the popular political mantra 'build, build, build', but it doesn't help in the short term. It takes years for the new housing to become available. But the housing policy could be changed now. ... In the coalition paper [currently being negotiated], the emphasis is on building a million homes. But there is no mention of tax breaks for mortgages or inequalities in taxation of wealth. The parties involved in the negotiations must show more courage. Political risks must be taken.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Refugees also victims of this crisis

Emergency shelters in the Netherlands are overcrowded, in many cases because no housing can be found for recognised refugees so they remain there longer than strictly necessary. De Volkskrant calls for flexible solutions:

“Under the present circumstances, requests or benevolent responses from a municipality [for new, temporary emergency accommodation] cause unrest among the population. Especially when experience shows that a temporary arrangement is often extended. A lot of discontent among the population could be dissipated if accommodation capacities were increased. Such accommodation should in principle be made available to asylum seekers. But if the number of asylum applications were to decrease, it could also be used on a temporary basis by other groups suffering from the consequences of the housing shortage, such as (foreign) students.”