The bad example

I regularly get angry at municipalities that don’t seem to see the need to build quickly. Or at municipalities that say they see the need, but don’t act on it. And this while so many people have been looking for a home for so long. The worst and most recent example comes from Amsterdam where housing projects are being postponed due to budget cuts that would be necessary as a result of the corona crisis.

Well, that Amsterdam is a problem area, also in terms of public housing, we knew for some time. But of course this beats everything. We have just finished a national election campaign in which almost all parties promised more money and more priority for housing. A million new houses – hardly anyone will do it for less, because the housing shortage is skyrocketing. And certainly in Amsterdam where the shortage is estimated at 65,000 homes by 2024. But the GroenLink alderman Marieke van Doornick has announced that eight building initiatives in the Zuidoost district will be temporarily halted because she is going to cut back on the official project team. Where other municipalities are bringing in official capacity to speed up housing projects, the capital city is taking this stumbling step.

The project developers are rightly up in arms. They call this disastrous for the city’s ambitions: “In this market, delay can very quickly lead to cancellation. This is the wrong signal.” It certainly is, and it can’t hurt to make that clear again here in Southeastern Brabant. This is a bad example that should not be followed, even if the municipalities here also get financial problems from the corona crisis. The Financieele Dagblad has already recalled that in 2010 Amsterdam and other cities put their construction plans on hold due to disappointing land revenues. We are still dealing with the consequences. The backlog in housing production has never been cleared since that crisis. This only reinforces the need for national direction on housing policy, because apparently we cannot leave this to individual municipalities.