Rotterdam tenants fight demolition of 20,000 low-cost apartments

Worried Rotterdam tenants started collecting signatures on Wednesday to petition for a referendum on the municipality's plans to demolish some 20 thousand low-cost rental housing. The municipality plans to replace the cheap apartments with homes for families and professionals, RTV Rijnmond reports.

The social tenants are worried that people with low incomes are being chased out of the city. "The alderman is very much mistaken about the poverty reigning in the city. A lot of people are struggling to pay the rent and the cheapest housing is slated to disappear." George Verhagen of tenants association Feijenoord said to the broadcaster. "We want the alderman to give us the certainty of an affordable rent."

The residents want to prevent the demolition of their low-cost apartments with a city referendum. For a referendum they need a massive 10 thousand signatures, but Verhagen is not worried. "Last year we collected a thousand signatures in a few days to stop a rent increase, so this is not a big job."

Responsible alderman Ronald Schneider told the broadcaster in a response that the problem in the city is actually a surplus in social housing and a lack of housing for people with mid-level incomes. He is not worried about the referendum. He hopes it will show "what direction we want to go in this city, that we are building a better and stronger city."

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