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Student organisations fear emergency housing won’t cut it

The hunt for a student room is on and the first internationals have already taken refuge in emergency accommodation. Student organisations fear a repeat of the tent camp debacle of 2018, but according to the municipality there is no reason for concern.

On Friday, the first emergency accommodation opened its doors. Martinihouse on the Donderslaan has room for 125 students. There have been 72 applications so far’, said municipal spokesperson Manon Hoiting on Monday afternoon. ‘It’s a steady stream.’

Peak months

The emergency accommodation is meant for students who can’t find a room in the peak months of August and September. According to the municipality, these are the months in which graduated students have not all left yet, while new students are already arriving.

In consultation with the UG and the Hanzehogeschool, the municipality estimated before the summer that it will need between 150 and 200 beds in the emergency accommodation this year. ‘But that’s really not enough if you look at how many extra students are coming to Groningen this year’, says Marinus Jongman on behalf of Shelter Our Students (SOS).

Homeless students

SOS, a collaboration between the Groningen Student Union, Lijst Calimero, DAG, Groningen Feminist Network, ROOD Groningen, International Socialists Groningen and the Young Socialists, foresees that there will soon be many homeless students in Groningen.

‘The duration of the emergency shelter is shorter this year than in other years, while at the same time the academic year starts relatively late’, says Jongman. Students in the emergency accommodation can stay there until 15 October and the academic year only starts on 6 September. ‘That gives them exactly one month to find something.’

Couchsurfing

The organisation fears a repeat of 2018, when mainly international students were forced to sleep in tent camps for a time because they could not find a room. DAG then set up a couchsurfing action, where people with extra space in their homes temporarily took in a homeless student.

SOS has relaunched the initiative this year. ‘And there are already people who have offered a couch. Ultimately, we expect that this will be necessary in order to prevent students from sleeping on the streets’, says Jongman. ‘If they need a place, we have already arranged the couch.’

Phased opening

For the time being, the sofa beds don’t seem necessary, because there is room in the emergency accommodation. Apart from the Martinihouse, students can also stay in The Village on the Peizerweg and in the Bud Gett Hostel in the city centre. When the Martinihouse is full, the spots at The Village will become available’, says Hoiting. ‘And if necessary, after that the hostel places.’

Students who want to make use of the emergency accommodation have to report in person. Reservations cannot be made in advance. ‘This way, we prevent people from reserving a room in several places and occupying a place that someone else could use’, says Hoiting.

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