Deal with student housing shortage now, don’t leave it for new gov’t: D66

The fall of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s fourth Cabinet should not be a reason to ignore the immense student housing shortage, said coalition party D66 in a joint appeal with nine different interest groups. They have published a manifesto in which they called upon members of parliament to allow the current caretaker Cabinet to deal with the matter, and not declare it to be a controversial issue. I’m doing so, they would make it a policy matter for the next Cabinet, which will not be installed until we’ll after the November election.

The group wants outgoing Public Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge to pull out all the stops to provide more student rooms. Every year, students run themselves ragged trying “in vain” to find an adequate room, said D66 MP Faissal Boulakjar.

“Or they have no choice but to accept a much too expensive, damp and drafty home.” He believes progress has been slow under Minister De Jonge.

Boulakjar’s manifesto has been signed by Kences, the association for student housing, the CNV Jongeren labor union and the Rotterdam Chamber of Associations. They advocate providing at least 75,000 new student residences by 2030 at the latest, and other solutions, including the conversion of vacant offices into student housing and making binding agreements with cities where higher education is offered.

“Action in the short term is needed,” said director Jolan de Bie of Kences. According to the latest estimates, Kences said there was a 26,500 student housing shortfall in the 2020-2021 academic year. Without measures, that deficit could rise to 66,700 in 2028-2029.

In recent weeks, interest groups have lined up to argue that policy in their field should not be postponed until after the elections. Last weekend, the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) did so in a petition. Social issues such as the housing market cannot wait, according to the representative of all Dutch municipalities.

On September 12, the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament, will determine which topics will be declared controversial.

Reporting by ANP

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