Social housing not affordable for some low-income tenants
Many welfare recipients are not able to pay for social housing. Even including all benefits and only spending money on essentials, some still run out of money by the end of the month, according a report the independent budget research institute Nibud conducted and that was commissioned by the housing corporation Aedes, Trouw reports.
Director of the housing union Woonbond, Zeno Winkels, called this development is “very worrisome”.
“For many people with a low-income it’s a puzzle every month with too little pieces”, Nibud director Arjan Vliegenthart said.
A year and a half ago, research from Nibud showed that a quarter of all tenants, which equals roughly 800 thousand households, were in financial trouble. Since then, for some, the situation has improved. Nonetheless the need to create affordable social housing is still great, Nibud said.
Take a couple with two children on social assistance. If they rent a house for 432 euros, the highest rent for which they can still receive housing benefits, they would still be nine euros short each month. In more expensive social housing, the deficit can easily creep up to 160 euros.
Nibud only included absolutely essential costs in the calculations. Expenses for a pet or smoking, for example, are not included. Therefore, despite nine euros not seeming like a huge amount, it is difficult for families to cut down in other areas.
It is not only those on welfare that struggle. Nibud stated that a working couple with children and a low-income can easily run into financial problems if they do not find a social rental home.
In the study, recent measures the government created to help tenants were considered as well. Two weeks ago, the cabinet decided to freeze rents. This is not as useful as it might seem, Nibud stated, since benefits were decreased simultaneously. Adjustments suggested by some election programs only benefit a minority. The VVD, for example, suggested cutting back on housing allowance by 900 million euros.
The most effective way to help tenants, according to the research institute, is to increase income by raising minimum wage and welfare benefits. Aedes and the Woonbond want to renew a social housing agreement already established in 2018 that is meant to ensure that housing remains affordable.
The new cabinet may abolish the landlord levy, a tax that costs corporations nearly two billion euros per year. This development would give corporations more room to accommodate tenants.
“The Nibud report clearly shows that we cannot save tenants with only a moderate change in rental policy”, said Aedes chairman Martin van Rijn. “Additionally, targeted policy to the people with the lowest income is needed to provide structural support for low-income groups."