More accessible housing for everybody, fairer contracts for everybody, implement the huurcommissie, more short-term housing, legal support in English for Internationals. And much more.
In the past few years, The Hague has become an increasingly popular destination for students from all around the world. The municipality of The Hague, with all its partners, have invested heavily in bringing more educational programmes to The Hague, mainly from Leiden University. This, in part, has caused the demand for housing to increase tremendously. Although attracting new study-programmes is good, we also believe that facilities should then be made available to accommodate such growth. Current projections put the expected growth of the international student population of the Hague at 31% in the next 12 years, this is according to a report published in March 2018 by the student housing think tank “the Class of 2020” based on research of government projections. The projections for the growth of total population is currently impossible, according to this report, as the number of local students cannot be accurately estimated. This would make the Hague the second largest growing university city after Delft.
There is no way around it, The Hague is currently struggling with a serious housing problem. This problem affects a wide range of people; from students and young professionals to many others who seek affordable housing. There is a structural lack of housing. We believe that it is no longer maintainable to delay solutions to this ever growing issue. The city has advertised itself as a student city and now needs to do well by its words and create a livable and conducive environment. Our party is dedicated to creative solutions for the housing shortage, in the long term, but most importantly in the short term to alleviate the current market.
This also means that there can be no room for discrimination and mismanagement in The Hague. We believe that the issue of ‘huisjesmelkers’ (market manipulators) and the issue regarding vacant buildings (empty houses and offices, for instance) should be addressed. Our party wants clarity and transparency. This means no more unfair secondary conditions to housing (such as `western cooking only`), no unnecessary mandatory costs. Additionally, rental contracts should be fair and straightforward to prevent abuses. Therefore, we argue that contracts should also be offered in English to those that do not speak Dutch. However, we do believe that both owners and tenants should be supported in that effort. As such, we wish to involve existing platforms (such as the `huurcommissie` and the `Hague legal counter for student housing`) in this process to help provide more clarity to tenants and owners. This issue will not go away by itself with housing markets self-regulating, as other parties have professed.
To make this a reality, Bond voor Studenten Actie wants to undertake the following actions:
- Expansion in the construction of affordable and attractive (social) rental houses, fitting for the demand on the housing market in The Hague.
- With all new housing projects being brought to the Municipal Council as the main planning authority, this very council needs to prioritize affordable student housing projects.
- This also includes further supporting social housing projects such as DUWO, which has not been able to fulfill its obligation to facilitate students living in the city.
- Contracts for people that do not speak Dutch should also be available in English, and at the minimum, the access to translation and legal support services that already exist should be made more easily available to all citizens of the Hague (by the expat desk at the municipality to name just one).
- Compensation for living costs (such as garbage-taxes and other municipal taxation), for residents with a low income, on a student room without its own facilities, for which one is not eligible for ‘huurtoeslag’ (rent-compensation). Here again, access to information on what the actual costs for students will be is needed. This also means telling students about the taxes that they do not need to pay if they are not currently working.
- It is important that new houses are built with the future in mind, and areas such environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- Short-term solutions for housing for students:
- Deployment of cheap temporary container-homes for students, as has been done in Amsterdam.
- Convert offices that have been standing empty for a long time to student housing.
- Organize Housing blocks where students in the care-sector or social services live in close proximity to elderly people. Students can play a supporting role in light household tasks to unburden care-services. Students will be stimulated with discounts on their living costs and free extra services such as Wi-Fi, courses, and journals.
- Provide the opportunity for different social housing projects, for example connecting students with refugees and asylum seekers.
- Construct environmentally friendly ‘tiny-homes’ on derelict land or abandoned industrial areas that will not be used in the short-term, and make the permits for such homes more easily obtainable.
- Bringing this to the Council’s attention
- We will bring these issues forward at every council meeting because we do not simply want this for students. As students ourselves we live the realities of the flawed housing market every day.
- This is more than just one of many parts of our programme, this is the initial reason for us setting up this party, one of the biggest issues facing current and prospective students in The Hague.