The Dutch government has finally decided to push for a law that must ensure that housing property in the major cities and – in some cases even the whole of the municipality – doesn’t fall prey to the speculation of “buy cheap, renovate, resell.”
As a Dutchman myself, residing in Amsterdam, I personally feel that this is a very good idea. It makes it possible for people with lower incomes to finally find a house to live in, without having to sell most of their major organs in order to compete in a highly overpriced market. It also gives room – no pun intended – for expats to not have to live in the suburbs. As someone who used to live in the city centre, and who is now living the dream of an artist in the suburbs, I think that this will lead to a more diverse city.
So many forms…I’m fully aware that, when I asked a Canadian the other day, most of the people who come here find an agency and that they are very well taken care of. “It’s not that the Dutch are not helpful,” he said, “it’s the forms that get to me. I’m not asking for an English version stapled to every Dutch form I have to fill in, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to immediately grab my phone for Google Translate every time I see a blue envelope on my doormat.”
As I said, I’m Dutch, and I have a running gag with my mailman (little side note here: why is the term “mailman”?), which basically goes like this: she drops the blue envelope on my doormat, and I open the door and ask her to return that specific piece of mail. To her credit, she is steadfast, and I still end up with said blue envelope.
Back to the forms. even I don’t understand them. The Dutch have an extreme love for jotting down stuff. What goes where, how much spices did we nick, who’s on the boat voluntary. I guess that’s still that little remnant of colonialism embedded in our system. But mostly it’s that Roman expression: “pecunia non olet.” If you weren’t on Google Translate already, let me save you the trouble: money doesn’t stink.
And this goes for the housing problem as well. Here in Amsterdam, there is a tendency that apparently some people have a wad of cash stashed somewhere which leads to gentrification, segregation, and well, basically, people drowning in debts. This new law is probably gonna piss off a lot of people, which is usually a good thing to do, if you ask me.
A boring worldOne of the members of our monarchy – I think he is at least part of the monarchy as he calls himself a prince – is one of the worst culprits: Prince Bernhard. The second or so. I am a terrible Dutchman, I’m not keeping count. The proud owner of more than 600 properties distributed throughout the Netherlands (offices and houses, of the latter more than 100 of which are in Amsterdam), he sold them for “the current price.” Meaning, he made a buttload of money.
And I know: money makes the world go round, so they say. But it’s going to be a really boring world if that means that the diversity of a city through affordable housing is subjugated to some dude who happens to be royalty sticking his royal behind in the mix, in order to buy another Maserati to go “go-karting-for-the-rich” on his (yes, his) race track.
So, I salute this decision by the government! We Dutchies may be overly bureaucratic, money-hungry merchants by blood, but apparently, we do have a sense for doing the right thing. Or we just like to mess with the rich. Either way: here’s to – hopefully – the end of an era. The era of housing colonialism.