The Hague, key issues: housing, integration and jobs
We asked the main political parties in The Hague to answer three questions, based on the issues which DutchNews.nl readers said were most important to them in our recent poll: ensuring enough affordable housing, stimulating integration and creating jobs. These are the answers so far:
1 We need to build far more affordable houses in The Hague. GroenLinks wants 80% of newly built houses to be affordable for people with an income below €40,000. Affordable housing should be available in every part of town. We feel strongly about diverse neighbourhoods with a good mix of cheaper and more expensive houses.
Landlords and housing agencies sometimes charge excessive prices. GroenLinks wants strict rules and law enforcement to stop these unfair practices.
2 GroenLinks welcomes everyone in The Hague and we are proud of the diversity in our city. To us, integration is not just the responsibility of newcomers but is a shared responsibility. All initiatives geared towards integration and increasing mutual understanding can therefore count our full support.To increase involvement in local democracy, GroenLinks wants to provide internationals with information in English (or in other languages) about the elections and the right to vote.
We want to make it as easy as possible for people to learn Dutch by offering courses in every neighbourhood. GroenLinks wants Dutch lessons to be free for status holders and a tailor made integration program for vulnerable newcomers with special needs such as such as young newcomers, the LGBT+ community and people with mental health problems.
3 The Hague is known as the City of Peace and Justice. We aim to change this into City of Peace, Justice and Sustainability. GroenLinks wants The Hague to actively pursue (international) sustainable companies, environmental organisations and organisations fighting climate change.
We believe that green growth is the way forward. GroenLinks strives to be climate neutral in 2030. Insulating all of our houses and buildings and switching to clean energy and heating is a huge challenge but it also offers unique opportunities. It will provide at least 5,000 jobs over the next few years while making our city a better place to live, not just for us but also for the generations to come.
1 D66 wants to build more affordable houses but also to stimulate people to move from their cheap houses if they can afford to live in non-social housing. There are a lot of people that stay put in their social housing. D66 wants to look into building on top of the train tracks at Central Station. This could create housing for 10,000 people. We also want to turn empty office buildings into affordable apartments.
2 D66 would like to stimulate language courses through the ‘brede buurtschool’ – language lessons for less money. Refugees should be able to learn Dutch as soon as they arrive at an asylum centre. Now these language courses start when people finally find a place to live. This sometimes takes a year or 18 months of waiting without starting to learn the language.
3 The Hague’s unique character offers a lot in terms of the economy and jobs. As a council we must invest in the city in a focused way and give entrepreneurs the room and opportunities to grow. In addition, D66 focuses on the international character of our city, on innovation and one sustainability. From startup to multinational, everyone should be able to locate in The Hague and develop. We also want to do more to cut red tape.
1 The Hague is a wonderful city to live in. However, it’s becoming increasingly hard for more and more people to find a good, affordable home. The Hague PvdA will invest €1bn to facilitate enough affordable houses for families with low incomes, divorced people, students, starters and refugees. Through this investment, we can make sure that in the future new construction projects always include social housing and affordable house prices, in every neighbourhood. In addition, social housing can only be demolished on the condition that it will be replaced with new social housing comparable in rent, and the inhabitants can return. Too many of our fellow citizens live in badly maintained rental homes, feeling powerless against unreliable landlords or immense housing corporations.
2 The Hague is a colourful and diverse city with an international profile. More than half of our city’s population is of non-Dutch descent. Such diversity offers many opportunities but also poses challenges. The Hague PvdA strives for a unified society in The Hague: a society where everyone can feel at home. We would like for the different citizens of The Hague to encounter each other more often. To do so, we will restore the traditional role of local community centres, in facilitating a meeting place for neighbourhoods, and ensure children from different neighbourhoods go on school outings together, for example, so that they can learn about each other and the diversity of this city. Every child in The Hague deserves equal opportunities when it comes to good education. The Hague PvdA will set up a municipal pre-school, so that all children can enjoy equal opportunities in education.
3 We are proud that our jobs plan facilitated 10,000 new jobs in The Hague. However, many people in our city are still unable to find proper work, or depend on underpaid jobs that offer no sense of security. Even though encouraging large businesses and international organisations to come to The Hague helps academics find jobs, this does not work in the same way for people with a more practical educational background. So, it is important to keep investing in our local economy, small businesses and jobs in the public sector such as health care, education and green maintenance. The gap between the income of people in the workplace and that of directors is becoming wider and wider. That’s why the municipality will not work with organisations and businesses where managers and directors earn wages higher than those earned by government ministers. We will invest in jobs in the public sector: in healthcare, in education, in housing and sustainability.