It’s expected that homeless students will be making use of the available emergency housing for a few more months. Some of the facilities will therefore continue to operate, until the end of December. There will also be five houses available for extra temporary shelter.
The city of Groningen decided this in consultation with the UG and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. All emergency housing was scheduled to shut down in October, but the city says there are too many students who haven’t found a room yet.
‘Compared to two years ago, when we also set up emergency housing, the numbers were much lower. We were able to close on October 15’, says city spokesperson Manon Hoiting.
New student housing
The Martini House at the Donderslaan, which has room for 125 students, will stay open until the end of December. Housing corporation Patrimonium is providing five houses until the end of the year, which have room for another fifteen students. Dormitory The Village, at the Peizerweg, will close on November 1.
The city says students have been steadily moving from the emergency housing to a permanent residence. On Thursday, The Village had forty-seven beds available, says Hoiting. And on Wednesday, she says, the Martini House had ten empty beds.
The city hopes the completion of new student housing will help more students move on. In December, fifty new units will open up at the Reitemakersrijge, and the renovation of the Kornoeljeflat in Selwerd is scheduled to be completed in February. This apartment building had at least three hundred rooms.
Help from the city
In the meantime, action group Shelther Our Students (SOS) is still taking stock of how many students actually need help. Over the past few months, eight hundred homeless students signed up with the group, which managed to arrange temporary shelter for approximately 150 of them. ‘But there’s a large group that we know nothing about’, says SOS representative Marinus Jongman.
Jongman thinks they’ll have to personally call the majority of those eight hundred students to find out whether they’ve found a permanent place to live. Whenever necessary, they’ll refer students to the emergency housing.
‘We will also ask them for some more background information, like which information they were given before coming here, what the communication was like, and how they made the choices they did.’ The organisation wants to find out what needs to improve in order to prevent this situation from happening again next year.
The city has provided SOS with help in order to lighten the load. ‘They sent us some people, who we trained this week. They can now help us make all those calls.’
All in all, Jongman is satisfied with the city’s commitments. ‘The extra beds are good news, especially since they’ll be available for longer. That gives everyone some wiggle room.’ He’s also happy with the extra help to SOS. ‘It’ll aid us in creating an overview of the situation and allows us to breathe a little bit.’
But he’s not completely assuaged: ‘The housing shortage is greater than ever and I’m concerned not everyone will find a place. We’ll keep a close eye on things for now. We’re not there yet.’