By: Max Morgan
The housing crisis in the Netherlands has been a national concern for years, with a rising
population and demand – the outcry for action has been catastrophic. The widespread issue has
been breaking headlines and sparked activists into life as increasing pressure has been placed onto
the Government to listen to the voices of thousands. The wave of outrage has gathered
momentum and has resulted into historic protests taking place in the Dutch capital, as mass
crowds flood the streets, demanding a change. With the protests on September 12th now a thing
of past, the issue of housing remains, and the questions to the government are still present.
With a there being housing issues in the past, the protests of 2021 are incomparable. As mentioned
above, the issue is affecting a much more diverse demographic. From ethnic minorities to both
Dutch and international students right up to the middle class, the prices of accommodation have
exploded over the past 12 months by over 20%. Affecting so many citizens has blossomed into unity
across the Netherlands during these protests, speaking to a spokesperson at the protests and leader
of Haagse Staadpartij, Fatima Faïd, had much to say on the matter.
“The protests are very important, it was a complete wakeup call as no one was expecting
the numbers that we had, people came from all corners of the country to Amsterdam to
protest. It’s shaken up the whole political system. I was only expecting to talk to 300
people and over 20,000 showed up. It’ll go down as an iconic moment in my life, I wanted
to speak to the common people. To be a part of a such a young diverse representation
of activists shows a new generation people wanting to make a change.”
Ms Faïd then went onto say;
“The revolution never starts in parliament; the revolution always starts on the streets. The
only way the people can get something onto the political agenda is to show the impact and
scale of the problem. The government must prioritise this issue. And everyone needs to work
together, the politicians must talk in the parliament, the squatters must squat, the activists
must try to get people on the streets and all together we make the pressure.”
Faïd was very clear in saying that the power to make the change lies within the public. Comparing
the recent housing protest with the Black Lives Matter movement, she is all about giving the young
generation the platform to share their voice. Stating in her speech that one protest will not be
enough, further events are scheduled in Rotterdam on October 17th and Den Haag 16th November.
With activists showing no sign in slowing down, it’s only a matter of time till the Government
Previously mentioning the diverse demographic affected by the crisis, students are among those
dealing with this problem. Struggling to balance a social life, work and school is a headache for most
young adults, however, to worry about a place to live is something many have been dealing with for
months. With many basic apartments exceeding a student’s budget has left many homeless, feeling
vulnerable and desperate.
Speaking to International students about their housing situation, many said that after searching for
months both in their homeland and in the Netherlands,
‘It has been near impossible. Not only to find a place within my budget, but also a house
that’ll accept Internationals. I’ve spent almost 200e worth of subscription fees (websites)
with very little success. My family wanted me to return home but I have to study my masters.
I’m a guy with two suitcases, what can I do? ‘- Antonis, Greece
These feeling can also be shared by Antonia, Romanian, who was searching for accommodation for
months but has since settled down with a Turkish family on the outskirts of Utrecht, encountering
multiple scammers along the way. After staying in a hostel, she is thankful that her landlord has
opened their home to her but yearns to live the ‘student life’ within the city itself and hopes to build
positive experiences with her peers.
Giving a voice to both Dutch and Intenational students, is chairman of the ‘Young Socialist’ Andrej
van Hout, a member of the political youth party aligned with the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA). Van
Hout was very vocal with his views and expresses how he is wanting to develop a fairer economy
and society for all people in the Netherlands. Asking him about the student housing situation he
“The situation is terrible, it’s a human right according to the Dutch constitution for the
government provide housing – not only for Dutch citizens but also Internationals. There
needs to be a switch in mentality towards international students, creating space for
integrating them into Dutch culture. I also believe that there is a frustration towards
internationals with the language barrier, there needs to be more openness towards letting
internationals into our homes.”
Further discussing the future protests, he shared the similar views a Ms Faïd. Both will be present at the Rotterdam protests and encourages others to join too. To learn more information about future protests and to stay informed, click on the link below for the Rotterdam event.