D66: Give Amsterdam students ex-con, refugee-seeker flatmates

Student room (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Guillaume Speurt)Student room (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Guillaume Speurt)

The D66 in Amsterdam wants students to live together with ex-convicts, refugees and elderly people. According to the party, this would solve two problems - the cutbacks in the prison system and the housing shortage among students. 

The D66 will hand a proposal to the city college, asking that the possibilities of students living with vulnerable groups be investigated, Het Parool reports.

The accommodation will be in exchange for social work, with extra, professional aid where needed. "Professional aid remains involved: an elderly person will always need a nurse, with ex-prisoners rehabilitation and in some cases youth work will always be involved, with refugees an organization such as Vluchtelingenwerk will remain involved.", according to the party.

The D66 is basing its plans on the Skejby boarding house which was founded in Aarhus, Denmark in 1973. Half of the residents in the boarding house is students, the other half is convicts serving the last part of their imprisonment, in addition to professionals like social workers. Research showed that prisoners who served the last part of their sentence in Skejby are 21 percent less likely to commit another offense, according to the newspaper.

D66 alderman Reinier van Dantzig hopes that a similar effort in Amsterdam will have the same effect. He has a particular group of ex-convicts in mind for the project - young people from the Top 1000 who have served their sentences and now need some help to get back to life as usual. "Think of young people who want to improve their lives and are now, for example, looking for a job. According to me, these are enormously similar to a student." he said to Het Parool.

Due to cutbacks in the Ministry of Security and Justice, 26 prisons will have to close their doors. This means that the number of prison cells will decrease by nearly 13 percent. According to student union LSVb, Amsterdam will need between 9,000 and 10,000 extra student rooms in 2015 in order to be able to meet the demand. The D66 thinks that its new plan can help solve both those problems.

Van Dantzig emphasized that this will be on a completely voluntary basis. "I do not want to put a gun to a student's head to force him to participate in this project. Certainly not all students will be interested in this, it is meant to be a fairly small project.", he said to the newspaper. But he expects that the project will attract a number of interested students. "I can imagine that living with a Top 1000-youth will be extremely exciting for a criminology student."