Woonstrijd – Groningen

28 November 2021

The housing protest in The Netherlands continued in Groningen. Besides the common challenges in the housing market. They have something extra… natural gas and to be more specific earthquakes caused by the distraction of this gas.

The afternoon was wet, chilly and sprinkled with samples of rain promising a downpour. The weather gods in a good mood and kept most of the rain safely stored in the clouds overhead.

Maya was the energetic host presenting the afternoon and the first speaker she announced was Yvonne Morselt. Yvonne spook on behalf of the Groninger Bodem Beweging. This could be translated as Groninger Ground Movement. Due to the extraction of natural gas the ground in Groningen is moving and although the gas production from the Groninger fields is reduced it will keep moving for decades till it’s settled again. This will remain a problem as the government is not making a real effort in fixing the damage to the houses caused by earthquakes. Earthquakes happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in an unsellable house with cracked walls waiting for financial support to have it fixed. The only thing happened is that a new economy emerged around the problem instead of houses being repaired and made earthquakeproof.

Charlotte Braat, de Goede Zaak, explained the government will compensate for the higher energy prices we are facing (if you didn’t fix a price for several years). The problem with the way it is setup that the money doesn’t have an equal impact. If you already isolated your house the energy price has less effect on you compared to somebody living on a low income in a rented house with no up to date isolation measures.

Fiona van den Bergh spoke on behalf all alternative housing solutions. That is from squatting, to building your own house and various communities. This is not easy for them to do as it doesn’t fit in any government frame, but these places are important. Everybody should live in the way that feels best for them and they are the bubble of creativity every city needs.

The students were represented by two speakers. Due to the poor housing conditions for students, caused by the university of Groningen. They take in more and more students from around the globe, but not ensuring there is enough places to live. Some students were fed up with this situation and squatted two empty buildings from a housing association. The housing association wants to sell these buildings and a few more they own. This is interesting for them as the prices for houses are high, but is is not helping the homeless and couch surfing students. The housing association want to give them a temporary contract in exchange for their identity. The students don’t fall for this trap and want a better contract without sharing their identity.

To build on that Ivi told us about the University. They expected 10-20% more students this year and arranged for 150 extra beds. Claiming that they have done enough. In September there were 550 homeless students in Groningen… Shelter Our Students Groningen, like in Maastricht, tries to find every student off the street and a roof over their head every night. But couch surfing is not a solution and adding a lot of stress while they need to focus on their study. The ‘good’ part, according to the university, is that the increase of students was only 3%. That still leaves hundreds of students homeless.

The rent gets increased with a few percent each year. In the last ten years the increase was 35%. This needs to stop as everything becomes more expensive and people run out of money to live. Willy, representing Wij Weigeren De Huurverhoging (we refuse the rent increase), explained you can fight this by not paying the increase. They will take you to court, but the judge will be on your side.

Emma was the last speaker and as representative of the International Socialists she linked all three big problems Housing, Racism and Climate to the same root cause… greed.

End the profits of slumlords, 1979 – 2021 Oude RKZ & Poli, Woonzekerheid voor idereen, bond precaire woonvormen, Squat all day Squat all nigh Housing is a human right!, Wooncrisis behalve als je rijk bent, Er gaat niets boven woningen, gefucked door de woningmarkt, Marktwerkiong werkt niet voor iedereen, jaloers, Mijn huis heeft geen marktwaarde, Alle huisbazen zijn hufters, Woonrecht boven winst, Niet zeuren huizen zonder scheuren, Rutte fucked the housing market no vaseline,