Housing corporations not building enough homes, regulator says

Housing corporations are still failing to build enough homes, according to a report by the Housing Corporation Authority, part of the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. The "State of the corporation sector" report showed on Friday that they only realized 62 percent of their annual construction plans in 2017 and 2018, NOS reports.

The report did not give a reason for these failed plans, but mentioned a number of possibilities. "Too optimistic schedules, setbacks in tenders, rapid construction costs increases and other causes can play a role," the Authority said.

Housing corporations themselves complain that the landlord's tax, efforts to keep rents affordable, and making homes more sustainable are leaving them with too little money to build new homes, according to Trouw. But a lack of money is not the problem, Kees van Nieuwamerongen, director of the Housing Corporation Authority said to the newspaper. 

"Corporations say they want to build 25 thousand homes every year. The budget for that too. They have already taken into account the rising taxes and costs. And yet at the end of the year it appears that they have built a lot less: less than 15 thousand homes," he said to Trouw, adding that these involve construction plans for which permits have already been arranged and contractors should have been standing ready. 

"In recent years, from 2014, corporations have repaid around one to two billion euros in debts. That is money that is, bluntly said, lying on the shelf. Money with which houses could have been built, with which investments in sustainability could have been made. For inexplicable reasons, that did not happen. I find that disappointing in times of housing problems," Van Nieuwamerongen said.

The complaint that housing corporations don't have money to build new homes is therefore not true, he said. "We are surprised to see that there is money, that corporations can build, and that it still does not happen. Certainly in this housing market with the current problems, we find that very worrying. They only build 62 percent of what they intend to. That is really little."

According to the "State of the corporation sector", the housing corporations built around 14,350 new homes and assigned 180 thousand social rental homes to new tenants. The number of social rental properties has remained fairly stable. At the end of 2018, there were almost 2.1 million social rental properties. That is over a quarter of the total Dutch housing stock. Corporations' commercially rented stock fell by 3,900 to 130,100 in 2018, compared to 2017. 

Housing shortage has been a problem in the Netherlands for years. The government aims to create 75 thousand new homes per year. Earlier this week Statistics Netherlands reported that this goal was achieved in 2019, with 77 thousand new homes created. The figures from the Housing Corporation Authority are from a year earlier.