Almost all government-purchased prefab flexible homes still in storage

Last year, Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge pushed 200 million euros into building over 2,000 prefabricated, flexible homes. He aimed to quickly create homes that municipalities could place as soon as they had a location available to start swiftly filling gaps in the housing shortage. But 1,900 of those homes are still in storage, the Volkskrant reports.

When the first 100 flexible homes were placed in Delft in May, it was already clear that things weren’t going great. De Jonge then said that about half of the homes had potential locations, and he expected that all of them would be gone by the end of the year. This week, his spokesperson told the Volkskrant that not a single flexible home had been placed since the 100 in Delft.

The biggest problem seems to be the uniformity of the offer. When ordering the homes from nine builders in December, the government set a strict pattern to allow for faster production. The homes consist of residential blocks with three floors, each with 48 homes of varying sizes. Municipalities can place them either in a U-shape or in several rows. But the standard doesn’t seem to fit municipalities’ plans. Some want lower blocks, others higher ones. They also want freedom in how they place the houses, appropriate to the location.

After Delft, Leeuwarden is the only municipality that has signed a contract with the government for prefab homes. Leeuwarden purchased 200 homes, half of which will be placed in the autumn, the other half early next year.

The government is in “advanced discussions” with ten other municipalities and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) about placing around 1,100 homes. The most concrete plan is with Bunnik, where the city council agreed to put 50 flexible homes in front of the town hall. The permit procedure is currently in process. The other discussions are still in “the exploratory phase,” De Jonge’s spokesperson said to the Volkskrant.

The Ministry emphatically would not call the project a fiasco. According to the spokesperson, they’ve learned a lot from the purchasing process of flexible homes. “In hindsight, we should have done this differently, with less strict standards. Because we have shown that homes can be produced quickly, we have set the market in motion.”

The Ministry still considers the construction of temporary, modular units as the fastest way to create more homes. De Jonge plans to have 37,500 such homes placed by the end of next year.

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