The average employee can’t live anywhere anymore, and that’s insane

Aleid Truijens

Someone pushed the message under my nose: offered a room in Amsterdam, 8 m2. Rent 800 euros. React fast! Plus point: the tenant can also use a cupboard in the hallway for that amount.

Last year, 15 thousand people demonstrated in my city against the misery on the housing market, the shortage of affordable rental and owner-occupied homes. Not only in the Randstad, although the need is greatest there. Meanwhile, we have a war, an energy crisis, a climate crisis and a peasant uprising, and the housing crisis has slipped a bit from the spotlight. But she got worse.

According to a study by De Hypotheker about which The watchword last week posted many are now completely out of luck on the housing market. For someone who lives alone and has an average income (38 thousand euros), only 1 percent of the housing supply is accessible. In 2021 this was 3.3 and in 2020 4.7 percent. These affordable owner-occupied homes are mainly located in Limburg and Groningen. Over the past year, interest rates have tripled and prices have continued to rise. The average earner can borrow a maximum of 171 thousand euros; last year it was 188 thousand euros. Cohabitants with twice the average can borrow 304 thousand euros, 40 thousand less than last year. The offer also declined for them.

Have a look at Funda. One apartment is for sale in Amsterdam for under 175 thousand euros, a room of 10 m2 for 105 thousand euros. ‘With a loft bed, so that the living space is used optimally!’ the broker exults. There are six homes for sale in The Hague for average incomes, three in Utrecht.

We are not talking about poor people, about tenants at the bottom of society – for them there is an embarrassing shortage of social housing. These are educated people with a job and a reasonable income. Isn’t it insane that they can’t live anywhere? In this way, young people can never start their adult life.

They can’t go anywhere. Anyone earning slightly less than the average will be on the waiting list for social housing for years; those who earn a little more are sentenced to rental properties of at least a thousand euros. For this, the landlord demands a gross monthly income of four times the rent. The average employee does not earn that much.

In 2017, Minister Stef Blok spoke the historically complacent words: ‘I am the first VVD member to have made an entire ministry disappear!’ He was very proud. No more public housing, from now on the market and the local authorities would arrange everything perfectly. How untrue that has turned out.

We have another minister of housing, Hugo de Jonge. He started with firm language about ‘taking control’ and ‘intervening’ in the derailed market. But we haven’t heard much from the public housing provider lately. ‘Build, build, build’ was the motto. By 2030, De Jonge promised, there will be 900,000 new homes. We’re not gonna make it. Consultations with the municipalities are not progressing. In the first half of 2022, 15 percent fewer building permits were issued than in 2021.

Where is the map with designated construction locations, how many homes will be built there? One million homes in a short time, that has been shown before. Think of the new construction in the fifties, of the Vinex neighborhoods of the nineties. It is possible, but it requires great daring, big thinking and major investment from the government.

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