Public housing will not go to Ukrainian refugees rather than current residents: housing companies

Social housing associations in the Netherlands are firmly committed to ensuring that the reception of Ukrainian refugees does not come at the expense of those who have been waiting for a long time for low-cost housing.

Vestia and Ymere have indicated with other housing associations that they will not remove any homes from their stock due to the shortage in the housing market. However, they said they help in other ways.

Ymere is active in the municipalities of Amsterdam, Almere and Haarlemmermeer, and in several other cities. So far, the housing association has found spaces where around 100 displaced Ukrainians can be accommodated.

Amsterdam housing associations have come together to organize five complexes where Ukrainian refugees can be housed, including suitable commercial spaces, offices and schools. These buildings may be suitable for temporary occupancy with minor renovations, a spokesperson said.

The company stressed that ordinary houses are not an option for emergency shelter. “It’s additional, so it doesn’t go through existing housing seeker agreements,” a spokesperson said.

Amsterdam has asked all housing associations active within its municipality to find housing for refugees, a spokesperson for the Federation of Amsterdam Housing Companies (AFWC) explained. Five complexes have since been discovered, each with numerous living spaces.

The Netherlands is facing a tight housing market and in Amsterdam the pressure on the housing stock is even greater than in other parts of the country.

As a result, there aren’t many options for providing alternative housing in the city, the AFWC said. In the southeast of the country, a Limburg housing company was able to temporarily offer houses to be demolished as shelter for refugees. These spaces in Amsterdam are already being used for people who are economically homeless and do not have addiction or mental health issues.

Housing and Spatial Planning Minister Hugo de Jonge said that despite the housing shortage, he recognizes how important it is to provide Ukrainians with short-term emergency shelter and adequate housing in long term. Nevertheless, he stressed that “all available options are currently being used”.

It will not be easy to provide Ukrainian refugees with the housing they desperately need. “It’s very hard work because the shortage in the housing market is of course already very big,” said De Jonge. He also mentioned that he would be willing to change housing laws and regulations if it could speed up the process.

Vestia says it is celebrating by offering more than fifty “guest houses” for the reception of refugees in Delft, The Hague and Zoetermeer. These are available for residents who need to leave their accommodation temporarily due to renovations or major maintenance work can stay. Vestia also said no homes will be removed from the housing association’s stock.

The guest houses offer a temporary solution for hosting Ukrainian refugees, but there is still no date when the refugees will be able to move in. It will also depend on when these guest houses will be needed for a renovation or maintenance project.

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