Steering more strongly for housing construction
Who knows, maybe it will happen at the beginning of the new year after all: a new cabinet, perhaps even with new momentum! It will come as no surprise, but I hope that the new élan will also extend to housing policy. With a Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning who actually takes the lead and ensures that buildings are built. Not the least VVD member (former minister Ed Nijpels) said a few months ago: “It has become a mess. It’s a shame that in a civilized country like the Netherlands there is such a housing shortage.” Meanwhile, it has been leaked that the current outgoing minister who has been involved with Housing for a bit (Ollongren of the Interior) is still brooding on a bad plan in her final days. She wants to give municipalities the power to allocate “social housing” to residents of their own municipality in new construction projects. All this is intended to protect starters within their own municipal boundaries from buyers ‘from outside’. This smacks strongly of discrimination and is the umpteenth futile attempt to regulate a market that is far too tight. This regulation will not bring a solution, but will displace problems and create a lot of fuss. In the words of Frank Kalshoven, director of The Argument Factory, “It’s sticking plasters, sometimes even in places where there is no wound, while the housing market needs a life-saving operation.” You’re going to make as many people happy as happy with it, he writes in De Volkskrant. Indeed, this is distributing poverty. The scheme should apply to new-build homes up to €355,000 (the limit for the National Mortgage Guarantee next year). Now, new-build homes below that limit are already relatively scarce, so it’s a drop in the bucket anyway. And for many first-time buyers, a house above three tons is too expensive anyway. In addition, a lot of extra regulation and control is needed, for example to prevent a smart starter from municipality A from selling his house within a year for a considerable extra price to someone from outside. On balance, rules and restrictions offer no solution. That is why we must hope for a decisive Minister of Housing, who will take a strong lead in housing construction, if necessary over the heads of the provincial and municipal administrators. Designate building locations, speed things up and perhaps even make social housing possible again with premium schemes. Of course I hope, first and foremost, that we will find a way out of the corona crisis in 2022, but the housing desire is certainly second on my list.