A group of (international) students yesterday (Sunday) squatted a building owned by the printing company Heijkens V.O.F in the Akerkstraat. Around fifty students participated.
Translated by Hans de Preter
The squat is part of a national campaign, within the context of a nine-year squat ban, set in place by the Dutch government. “During this time it was mainly squatters who had to pay, while property owners and speculators get away with vacancy. The ban is therefore not a solution for the housing shortage,” a student spokesman said.
The Squatting and Vacant Property Act has been applicable since 1 October 2010. The purpose of this was to reduce vacancy in the Netherlands.
However, research commissioned by the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of the Interior has shown that the effects of the vacancy policy are hardly visible, the squaters claim. At the start of this year, around 96,500 m² of office space was vacant in the city of Groningen, half of which is not even for rent or sale. Nationally, the vacancy rate of office buildings has almost doubled, the squatters argue in a press statement
According to the new residents, this vacancy is unacceptable in times of housing shortage.
“In a country where affordable rental homes are being flattened to make way for expensive apartments, a quarter of tenants must cut basic expenses to pay the rent and students have to sleep in an emergency shelter, we wonder whose side the government is on. That of the people, or the property owners. ”
They point out that housing shortage in the Netherlands will remain a problem until at least 2030. And as long as housing shortage and vacancy both occur, according to the students, squatting remains not only a solution, but also “a form of protest against the government’s mismanagement”.