Dutch face housing dilemma as middle class gets squeezed: Experts

The housing policy of the current Dutch government is creating a crisis, with the middle class bearing the brunt of the situation, according to TU Delft professor of housing Peter Boelhouwer and Karel Schiffer, former leader of NHG-hypotheek, the Financieele Dagblad reports.

According to these two experts, the housing market in the Netherlands today still faces a shortage of housing, the sale and rental sector hardly relate to each other and the steep rent increases combined with a decline in purchasing power is creating a "poverty trap" in the rental sector. 

The Netherlands' middle class is especially falling victim to the housing policy. Stricter mortgage requirements make it more difficult to buy a home. They earn too much for social housing, but can't afford paying the high rents of the private sector, if homes are available at all. This leaves them with two choices, keep living with their parents or incur more debt.

Boelhouwer and Schiffer call the situation appalling, adding that the current policy contributes to citizens' growing mistrust in politicians. They call on the next government to take immediate action. 

The two experts suggest a housing policy that is anti-cyclical, thereby avoiding excessive shocks to the housing and construction markets. And with the current low interest rates, the time has come for quickly phasing out mortgage interest deductions. Make it easier to redeem equity in homes for care costs and retirement. And focus housing associations on developing rental housing for the middle class, Boehouwer and Schiffer call.