Alleviate housing shortage by facilitating shared living: Platform31
The remedy to the housing shortage in the Netherlands has long been to build more houses, but according to the research center, Platform31 the solution also lies in moving people to already constructed buildings.
People in the Netherlands have, on average, more living space than inhabitant of their neighboring countries. Based on a recent report by Platform31, only one person lives in around 40 percent of houses. In the Netherlands, people have on average 65 square meters of living, while there is a shortage of 279 thousand apartments.In Germany, residents have on average 47 square meters of living space.
“Houses are oftentimes not used efficiently”, Frank Wassenberg from Platform31 told NOS. His suggestion is that more people should live together. “The more people live in an already existing apartment, the less you need to build.”
According to Professor of Urban Development Management at the Delft University of Technology Ellen van Bueren, there are too many hurdles in the way to sharing your home. “There are a number of obstacles that complicate sharing your home with more people” she said. “Mortgage lenders, for example, complicate renting out a floor of your house. And lawmakers put restrictions on housing allowance.”
It is more cost effective for two people to rent separate social housing apartments than would be for them to live together. Alone, they would each get 1,075 euros per month, hence, 2,150 euros in total. Living together they would get in total 1,535, despite only a 350-euro reduction in rent.
People should be encouraged more to live together, trade union FNV, Platform 31 and Woonbond said. One way this can be done is by shortening the waiting period for a social renting apartment if people are willing to live together.
The Zayaz Corporation in Den Bosch was hesitant about this approach. “This requires a careful assessment to find the right match”, a spokesperson said. Some municipalities also place restrictions on sharing apartments which are often occupied by students. They fear that the young people will cause disturbances in the neighborhood.
“It is a bit of an easy excuse: more people means more noise”, Wassenberg said. “Not only partying students want to share an apartment. As a municipality, you should take specific steps against disturbances but don’t completely ban shared housing.”
Platform31 estimated the housing shortage could be reduced by 15 thousand apartments yearly, yet said it was difficult to predict what the actual result would. “It is worth the effort to try new measures because it could alleviate the problem quickly”, Van Bueren said. “The problem is that the urgency of the housing shortage does not affect everyone.”