The rise and fall of the Dutch Social Housing Model

Seminar 5: 12 November 2013

The rise and fall of the Dutch Social Housing Model

Richard Ronald

Richard Ronald, Professor of Housing and Social ChangeIn this presentation, Richard Ronald, Professor of Housing and Social Change, talked abut the emergence of the Dutch social housing model and its successes and failures was considered as a means to understand the most recent transformations in conditions and what they mean for the housing sector and the housing welfare pillar.

The 'Rise and Fall of the Dutch Social Housing Model' housing in the Netherlands, has formed a fundamental pillar of their particular brand welfare capitalism for more than a century. At its peak, social housing in the Netherlands accounted for 42% of all housing (not including rent controlled private stock) and to this day, in cities like Amsterdam, still constitutes almost half of urban housing units (32% nationally).

Dutch housing associations have long histories and are particularly asset wealthy, particularly since the 'brutering' in 1995 in which housing associations were cut loose from state subsidies, controls and debt obligations.

However, since the mid-2000s, the social housing sector has been under sustained attack and the consensus which once underpinned it has faded along with restructuring and re-regulation aimed at supporting the reassertion of market function and reviving the housing sector following the GFC.

Social housing that was once considered a collective good and which provided accommodation for most Dutch households for at least some part of their housing career, is essentially being residualised as a category of housing suitable only for the low-income and vulnerable groups. 2013 has been a watershed year in terms of politically establishing the basis for, and a practical framework to, undermining social rents and pressuring housing associations into selling off large swathes of the stock.