Concerns about emergency housing for first-years

City council party Student en Stad is concerned that there won’t be sufficient emergency housing available for students in Groningen in September. But the city says the plans for emergency housing are proceeding according to their schedule.

The VVD submitted written questions about the emergency housing, and according to the answers, there are currently seventy-five spots available. The city says it’s on schedule towards having the necessary 150 to two hundred spots available by September.

But council party Student en Stad says this number is much too low. ‘These numbers are based on shaky predictions’, says council member Steven Bosch. According to Bosch, there will be a larger number of students who don’t graduate, more first-year students than ever before, and more internationals because of Brexit.

Risk factor

‘The city used to apply a risk factor of 1.3 to calculate the number of spots necessary’, says Bosch. This risk factor takes uncertainties into account. ‘But they’re not applying that risk factor this year. That’s an interesting choice. They’re not taking the uncertainties into account this year when there’s actually a bigger risk that the numbers will be higher this year.’

Roeland van der Schaaf (PvdA), the alderman in charge of emergency housing, is aware of the uncertainties. ‘We have pointed out that there are some uncertainties about the numbers’, his spokesperson, Manon Hoiting, said. ‘But these uncertainties exist every year, and every year, we’ve managed to take care of it.’ Besides, says Hoiting, the work group tasked with taking care of emergency housing is still hard at work. ‘We have enough time to prepare everything.’

The city, the UG and the Hanze expect to make a final decision about the definitive number of spots in emergency housing and what it will cost to stay there. It’s possible one of the emergency housing locations will be outside the city. ‘The councillor has said that it’s all right for the location to be outside the city limits’, says Hoiting. ‘As long as students can reach the city by public transport.’

Secure a room

During the discussion of the written questions during the city council meeting on Thursday, councillor Van der Schaaf advised new students to only come to Groningen once they’ve secured a room.

‘We’ve been giving the same advice to students as well, especially international ones’, says UG spokesperson Anja Hulshof. ‘Just like in other big student cities, it’s difficult to find a room in Groningen. We inform future students about the platforms and websites they need to find one. We especially make sure international students know where to go, since Dutch universities don’t provide them with rooms, while universities in other countries often do.’

But neither the city’s planning nor the university’s information campaign have assuaged council member Bosch’s concerns. ‘The risks the city is taking are far too great. We’ll probably see another massive influx of students. There’s a chance they’ll once again have to live in tents.’



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