PM’s own party against Cabinet’s new housing law, angering coalition partners

Coalition party VVD already has strong objections to the new housing law CDA Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Housing and Spatial Planning) presented on Thursday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party is vehemently opposed to obliging municipalities to build more social housing and giving some people priority when looking for housing. Coalition partners CDA and ChristenUnie responded to the immediate objections with great annoyance.

De Jonge’s bill gives the national government more power over housing construction in an attempt to reduce the housing shortage, NOS reports. It states that two-thirds of homes built nationwide must be affordable, like social housing rentals and owner-occupied homes costing less than 355,00 euros. Up to and including 2030, that involves 350,000 owner-occupied homes and 250,000 social housing rentals.

The VVD agrees with the objective but not how De Jonge wants to achieve it, VVD parliamentarian Peter de Groot said to NOS. The party is opposed to the part in the law that enables the government to force municipalities to have at least 30 percent social housing in their housing construction plans. “An absurd idea to impose this throughout the Netherlands,” he said. “The Minister wants to roll out the disadvantaged neighborhoods of the future throughout the Netherlands.”

According to the MP, some cities already have too many social housing homes, like Amsterdam. De Jonge should instead do something to tackle that, De Groot said. The party wants more affordable owner-occupied homes for middle-income groups. According to De Groot, the VVD will only agree to the law if De Jonge does something about that.

The VVD is also against the obligation for municipalities to give priority to some home seekers, including informal carers and the people they care for, people with severe medical conditions, homeless people, victims of domestic violence, people leaving sex work, and people coming out of a care institution, youth care, or prison. “Someone who has just come out of prison will soon be ahead of someone who has been on a waiting list for 12 years. And priority to ex-sex workers? Isn’t that inexplicable?” According to De Groot, this will lead to “social tensions” and unsafe neighborhoods.

The smallest coalition party, ChristenUnie, is annoyed by the VVD’s attitude, parliamentarian Piter Grinwis said on Twitter. “The VVD is dropping its mask. Are you homeless? Bad luck. Are you an informal carer? Go climb a tree. Distribute social housing and more expensive homes fairly across the cities and villages, and build neighborhoods where young and old feel at home? Yes, if it is up to ChristenUnie. Not if it is up to the VVD.”

The CDA is also displeased. “VVD minister Stef Blok once said that the housing market was finished. That is the cause of the major housing shortage now,” CDA spokesperson Derk Boswijk told the broadcaster. “Now that Hugo de Jonge is tackling the housing market, the VVD is pulling its hands off it.”

The D66 did not comment on the VVD’s attitude but told NOS that it would like to see more enforceable agreements with municipalities about affordable owner-occupied homes and student housing and less about social housing.

De Jonge himself was confused by the “unloving” criticism from the VVD but won’t give it too much attention. “I will leave it to the VVD itself to decide what this says about the manners in the coalition,” he told ANP.

The Minister doesn’t understand why the VVD reacts this way since he has established that municipalities with few social rentals should strive to achieve the national average of 30 percent. Municipalities that already have many social rentals should focus on middle-income housing, the Minister said to ANP. “I know that there is a large parliamentary majority for this method,” De Jonge said.

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