Another housing protest in Amsterdam: ‘It’s good that they keep the pressure on’

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Demonstrators on Dam Square
NOS NewsAmended
  • Anna Mees

    editor online

With a shortage of 315,000 homes, there are all kinds of groups of people in the Netherlands who do not have (affordable) housing. Demonstrators demanding a solution to the housing crisis have been demonstrating again in the center of Amsterdam since 1 p.m.

They state that since their previous protest in 2021, which was attended by some 18,000 people according to the organization, “nothing has changed in the living situation of millions of Dutch people”, while in inner cities “numerous buildings are vacant for large retail companies and real estate investors”. “.

At the beginning of last year, more than 219,000 properties, such as homes, shops and offices, were vacant throughout the country, according to the most recent figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. That amounts to more than 36 million square meters.

The vacancy rate is highest for offices: more than 8,000 were vacant, which amounts to 9.6 percent of the total number of offices. In total, almost 3.5 million square meters of office space is vacant.

And that with a shortage of about 315,000 homes. More should be done to transform vacant buildings, says Marja Elsinga, professor of housing policy and the housing market at TU Delft.

According to her, there is too much focus on new construction, partly because of the strong construction lobby, and the current building stock should also be looked at more closely. “The housing shortage is so urgent that you have to look at how you can create a place for as many people as possible.”

A bat in the building

But there are hardly any quick fixes. “Transforming offices always takes longer than you think, it is always disappointing. To get a permit, to change the zoning plan, to transform and to complete the operation and transfer.”

Capacity shortages in municipalities in particular mean that the transformation of buildings is delayed, says Maarten Hoorn of knowledge institute Platform31. “In many municipalities there are simply too few permit issuers. There are also too few people who know how to deal with noise regulations, or who know what to do if, for example, there is a bat in a building.”

Vacancy can also sometimes be more attractive to owners than letting, he explains. “Sometimes a residential function yields less than that of an office or shop, and they prefer to leave it empty for a while.”

Demonstrators in Amsterdam in the early afternoon

Edwin Buitelaar, researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), sees that since this year there is hardly any supervision that offices must have at least energy label C in order to still be used as offices. He says it would help if the national government and municipalities enforce this obligation from the Building Decree.

“If office owners felt pressure to comply with this, they would sooner be faced with the choice of continuing to operate as offices or transforming into homes. It would help if that rule were enforced if government offices themselves had label C or higher, which is often not the case.”

Positive developments

According to Professor Elsinga, there are also positive developments, for example that the landlord levy has been abolished and that since last year there has been a Minister for Housing again who is working on reducing the housing shortage.

Minister De Jonge wants 15,000 homes to be transformed from offices and shops every year. “There are also many preparations to get more affordable homes,” says Elsinga. But the demonstrators who take to the streets in Amsterdam today see little or nothing of that. “That’s why it’s good that they keep the pressure on.”

  • Idea against housing shortage: place more people in existing houses
  • Municipalities hardly participate in the construction of temporary homes
  • Thousands of demonstrators demand attention for the housing crisis with a protest march to Dam Square
  • Interior

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