Blog #2

Following the second session, we decided to develop our research around Urbanism in Amsterdam. The research direction is unclear yet; however, there are some key themes from which we will draw our considerations, such as gentrification, social housing, urban capitalism and homelessness.

Social housing will almost certainly constitute a significant part of the finished work, as it can be considered to contain all the other topics cited above. Amsterdam has a long and contorted history in regards to housing: According to the National Government, 75% of the total rented accommodations belong to housing associations (Government NL, n.d.); however, the country’s waiting times for these dwellings are of circa nine years (EJTA, 2021 & DW Documentary, 2019). Moreover, the significant amount of “public” housing is balanced by the skyrocketing rents in the private sector, where rental prices increased by 10% between 2013 and 2018 and by 5% in the last year only (UBS, 2021)3. For this reason, Amsterdam has been considered one of the cities potentially subjected to a “Real Estate Bubble”. Another interesting aspect could be the privatisation ratio in Amsterdam and its effect on the social conditions. For instance, even though they manage council housing, housing associations are 100% private organisations. However, their non-profit nature impedes that these could benefit from managing the houses themselves. Aalbers & Holm (2008) state that all of these associations have an explicitly “sale objective”: the permanent letting of the dwelling to renters who have lived there for an extended period.

Moreover, outside the social housing sector, other population brackets struggle to find affordable housing, such as students, young professionals and the middle class, who cannot buy or rent from the private market but earn too much to be eligible for subsidised homes. Also, the number rates of homelessness have increased significantly, 24% in the last 12 years (DW Documentary, 2019). Other exciting themes to look at will be tourism and the city’s consumption spaces. In the next session, we are going to narrow down the research themes and define the possible list of people to contact.

1 Government of the Netherlands. (n.d.). Housing Associations. [online]. Available at: https://www.government.nl/topics/housing/rented-housing [Accessed 28 Jan 2022]

2 European Journalism Training Association [EJTA]. (2021). EUFactcheck.eu. The Netherlands Has One of the Largest Social Housing Sectors in Europe but the Waiting List for Social Housing Averages Nine Years. [online] Available at:https://eufactcheck.eu/factcheck/mostly-true-the-netherlands-has-one-of-the-largest-social-housing-sectors-in-europe-but-the-waiting-list-for-social-housing-averages-nine-years/#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20Netherlands%20totalled,of%20the%20total%20housing%20market. [Accessed 29 Jan 2022]

3 UBS. (2021). UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index. [online] Available at: https://www.ubs.com/global/en/wealth-management/insights/2021/global-real-estate-bubble-index.html [Accessed 30 Jan 2022]

4 Aalbers, M. B. & Holm, A. (2008). Privatising social housing in Europe: The cases of Amsterdam and Berlin. In: Adelhof, K., Glock, B., Lossau, J. & Shultz, M. (Eds.) Urban trends in Berlin and Amsterdam, pp.12-23.

5 DW Dcoumentary. (2019). What to do about rising rents? | DW Documentary. [online video]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLOmZCUr7BQ&t [Accessed 30 Jan 2022].

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