Amsterdam’s VVD calls for debate about aldermen expat statements

The former ING head office is being converted into housing. Photo: Jan Derwig via Wikimedia Commons

The local branch of the VVD in Amsterdam has called for a debate with the city’s executive board over comments made about expats by two aldermen, according to local broadcaster AT5.

Last week, Socialist housing alderman Laurens Ivens reacted to an article on AT5 about the increase in expats moving to the city by saying that ‘Amsterdam families are being squeezed out by the arrival of richer people and the shortage of affordable housing.’

And he again reiterated the SP’s local election campaign call of ‘priority for Amsterdammers’ in new housing.

A day later, D66 alderman Udo Kok (economic affairs), said on Twitter: ‘Good news, ambitious, international knowledge workers are opting in large numbers for Amsterdam’.




The VVD, which was ousted as part of the local coalition in last year’s elections, says it is surprised by the contrast between the two tweets. ‘They give the impression that the housing alderman is criticising the arrival of expats while the economic affairs alderman is welcoming the arrival of this group,’ councillor Hala Naoum Nehme told AT5.

These conflicting standpoints could be confusing for councillors, companies and residents, she said.

The new population figures also gave rise to a spat between the SP’s local leader Eric Flentge and Sebastiaan Capel, the D66 leader of Zuid borough council.  Capel accused Flentge of xenophobia after he called on the city council to take steps to stop ‘Amsterdammers being displaced by expats and international students’.

If a majority of councillors back the call, the debate will take place on January 23 or 24.

Research

Research by the International Community Advisory Platform has shown that 80% of new expats get no help with housing costs and a large majority said they are paying more than they can afford for a place to live.

Some 25% of people considered to be expats earn less than €3,000 a month which would entitle them to social housing.

Flentge told DutchNews.nl in an email that he considered the exploitation of expats and international students by dodgy landlords to be a growing problem.


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