‘I’m asking them to publish as quickly as possible’, says university spokesperson Jorien Bakker, who acknowledges that several international students are still searching for a place to live. But she can’t say when each batch of units will go up. The first 20 units uploaded on Tuesday were gone in minutes.
Meanwhile, homeless international students are sitting around uploading their browser windows compulsively, hoping to secure a room as soon as the next batch is uploaded.
‘What the hell is happening here?’ asks prospective student Zaid El Husseini on a Facebook comment thread, comparing the situation to an internet version of The Hunger Games. Fellow commenter Bafrau Sayed responds, ‘they don’t tell us the time they’re going to launch them, probably to prevent the page from crashing.’
At Home in Groningen responds to student concerns: ‘Due to a super high demand the rooms are being reserved now within seconds. We are aware of the situation and doing our best to help everyone. Around 20 to 25 units will be published on a daily basis.’
Home sweet home
You may have already heard about the container village under development at the Suikerfabriek (Sugar Factory). The collaboration between De Unie Architecten and developer Rizoem was launched as an effort to meet the University’s goal of finding at least 500 rooms for incoming international students this year.
The addition of the container units to the roughly 200 rooms already uploaded to At Home in Groningen brings the total number of ‘found’ rooms to about 450.
The container units will not be complete until sometime in October. Municipality contact Eva Brennen says that if students need somewhere to live until then, they should say so when they register for a unit online.
‘Until the units are ready, the landlord will offer temporary accommodation, which will include a bathroom and will be shared between at least one or two additional persons. The landlord will communicate where to go and when to move.’
Rent for a single container is 500 euro a month, utilities included. Each container studio has a kitchen and a bathroom and is furnished with a bed, table, chair, refrigerator, closet, and cooker. Free wifi will be available in a shared common area.
The municipality recognizes that many students have budget constraints, with most international students on Facebook reporting a maximum budget of 400 euro a month. Nonetheless, the landlord at the Sugar Factory will only rent container units to single persons. No roommates allowed.