Parliament supports SP move to stop EU interference with social housing corporations

2 July 2010

Parliament supports SP move to stop EU interference with social housing corporations

Housing Minister Eimert van Middelkoop has been instructed to return to Brussels to seek a deferment of the imposition of European restrictions on Dutch social housing. On a proposal from SP Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut, Parliament called on the minister to present the demand. The European Commission decided at the end of last year that Dutch social housing corporations must impose means tests on tenants and that state support measures must be ended. According to Karabulut, this represents unwarranted interference in Dutch affairs. "We can decide for ourselves how we run our social housing," she says. "Brussels is attempting to limit the availability of affordable apartments, which is unacceptable."

Sadet KarabulutHousing corporations in the Netherlands are non-profit bodies which organise the sale of dwellings under a special system which bypasses the general, commercial housing market. The EU's decision means in practice that 90% of the dwellings managed by housing corporations must be allocated to households with a maximum annual income of €33,000. The problem is that such households often earn too little to be able to buy even a housing corporation apartment. A recent survey showed that 650,000 households would fall into this category. "Social housing isn't only for those on very low incomes," Karabulut insists. "It's no longer possible even for families on average incomes to buy a house on the commercial market, and in the deregulated private rental sector very few affordable apartments are available."

European restrictions were originally intended to be imposed on 1st October. Parliament however, on the last day before its summer recess, adopted a resolution proposed by the SP and others to the effect that the restrictions will not be introduced until there is clear information available regarding their results as well as what measures might be taken to counter them. In Karabulut's view, postponement should be followed by amendment. Referring to negotiations between right-wing Liberals and centre-left Labour, she says: "Deregulation began under the last 'Purple' ('Lib-Lab') government, another Dutch invention that we should indeed put a stop to."

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