Monday 17 January 2022

‘Spread expats outside Amsterdam,’ provincial councillor says

A poster in Amsterdam protesting about the sale of social housing. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Efforts need to be made to ‘spread’ international workers across Noord Holland province to ease the pressure on Amsterdam’s housing market, a D66 provincial councillor has told the Parool.

Sijmen Mulder said in a letter to the paper that some of the pressure is due to ‘internationals who are not attached to the Amsterdam region’ and that ‘unfortunately’, many expats chose to settle there.

‘These internationals are contributing to the pressure… and making it difficult for starters, who are connected economically to the city,’ Mulder said.

Mulder’s comments were made in response to an ongoing debate about the ‘internationalisation’ of Amsterdam and whether the presence of internationals, particularly those who work outside the city, influences the housing market.

Earlier this month Duco Stadig, who was in charge of the city council’s housing policy for 10 years and is now an independent advisor, told the paper that ‘expats are jumping the housing market queue because they can pay more and are therefore squeezing out the middle incomes.’

He called on Amsterdam to take advantage of new rules allowing the city to stop people who are not ‘economically linked’ to the city from renting properties costing below €2,000 a month.

Elections

Mulder’s comments come at an embarrassing time for D66, given the local elections take place in three months time and tens of thousands of international workers have the right to vote. Housing, especially the lack of affordable housing, is a top concern for expats as well as locals.

Research by the International Community Advisory Panel on internationals and housing in the Amsterdam region last year found that there is a major mismatch between the rent people pay and what they say they can realistically afford.

Some one-third of respondents said they are paying €1,500-€2,000 in rent, but only 16% can afford it. In addition, around 18% of international workers earn below €3,000 a month, which makes them eligible for social housing.

Landlords

‘Let us not forget that it is landlords who set the rents, and international workers often have no choice but to pay what they are asking,’ said ICAP board member Deborah Valentine. ‘The popular image of the wealthy expat who will willingly pay thousands of euros for a small flat has not matched the reality for some time in many cases.’

Reiner van Dantzig, who leads D66 on the city council, told DutchNews.nl that Amsterdam is – historically – an open and international city and that D66 cherished this fact.

‘We are the only party that would like to welcome internationals instead of rejecting them, he said. ‘Not only do we invite internationals to Amsterdam, but we are also creating an internationals club within D66 Amsterdam to make our link with Amsterdammers with an international background stronger.’

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