Amsterdam asks UN's help on housing market problems

Amsterdam and seven other popular cities are asking the United Nations for help in dealing with the problems of overcrowded city centers and overheating housing markets. The cities hope the UN will put pressure on national governments to intervene, NOS reports.

"We demand morel legal and fiscal power to regulate the real estate market in order to fight against speculation and to guarantee the social function of the city", the mayors of Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Montreal and Montevideo wrote in a letter to the UN. Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, presented the letter to the Forum for Local and Regional Authorities at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

A major problem, according to Amsterdam, is investors buying houses to sell with a substantial profit, thereby raising housing prices even further. "If you invest in a car, that's great, but people have to live in a home", a spokesperson for housing alderman Laurens Ivens (SP) said to NOS. According to him, this practice makes it more difficult for particularly less-wealthy people to find a home. "Certain groups are expelled from the city in this way."

Exactly what Amsterdam expects the UN to do, is not entirely clear. But through cooperation with the other cities, Amsterdam hopes that the national government will realize that the housing market problems are not just local. "The Hague says: 'This is an Amsterdam problem.' But speculators are an international phenomenon that we have our arm our residents against. We want as much influence as possible to be exerted on national governments and for this to get attention on every possible stage", the spokesperson said.