John is a flex tenant in the Kolenkitbuurt and one of the residents whose rent has been terminated. For some residents, their rental home is transformed into a commercial object and owner-occupied home, other tenants are exchanged for flex tenants of a different taste.
The 54-year-old Amsterdammer John has lived in the Kolenkitbuurt for years: ”I feel connected to this neighbourhood. Everyone greets you as you walk by. You know most of the people here. The social contact is good with the people.” He, a tenant of the vacancy law, recently received a letter that he must leave, while his neighbors (mostly students) can continue to live there. He will be exchanged for another temporary tenant. “I could leave everything for a new resident I was told. Most likely someone with a (temporary) campus contract will live there. It's me out, another in! This is unjust.”
The houses will not be demolished and the students can stay until at least 2017, after which their future is also uncertain.
De Bond Precaire Woonvorm states: “This is one of the ways to make tenants exchangeable for each other. Tenants are evicted under the guise of 'social policy for target groups'. In a race to the bottom tenants are losing their rights and more and more people are living in housing insecurity for years. We also see exactly this in the bills for new disposable contracts that are in the pipeline in The Hague (the proposal for 1- and 5-year contracts and the extension of the Vacancy Act with the category of owner-occupied rental properties of the VVD and the proposal for youth contracts of the CU, ed.). Tenants are transformed into nomads. Are you not earning enough? Then there is no room for you in this city. The politics of 'rich people in, poor people out' must stop! We therefore demand housing security for all of us.”
Three years ago, John, an electrician by trade, had an accident at work that left him with a hernia. “The doctor doesn't allow me to lift, my back won't allow it. Relocations are therefore a problem.” Nevertheless, the heavy boxes and his suitcases are already waiting in his living room. “My family lives in Suriname, but I want to stay in the Netherlands and in my city of Amsterdam, I have nowhere to go. I have to leave the house on February 1, but I will not live on the street. I will stay here and claim my rights of residence!”
John thinks it's unfair that he probably has to make room for a student. “It feels like you are being made interchangeable. You are an unwanted element. With my income of 1100 euros I cannot live in the free sector or acquire a home for sale. The waiting lists in the social rental sector are endless. That is why I live with a flex contract.
Maria, a student from the same housing block, also lives on a temporary (campus) contract. She declares her solidarity with the housing struggle and recently joined the Kolenkitgroep. She states:
“Students are victims of the same housing crisis and the same policies as everyone else who is on waiting lists, at risk of being evicted or unable to find a home. Students, artists and people looking for a temporary home are used as the adhesive tape that holds a sick system together. We see this clearly in the case of John's eviction: this is only possible because new temporary tenants can move in. The fact that the possibilities for temporary 'social renting' are being allocated to more and more groups does not mean that anything will be solved. Structural changes must be made, with the first change being more housing. The fact that students have no choice but to accept temporary housing does not mean that we should smile gratefully when we are offered temporary housing. It thus enables the system that pushes our inmates into a precarious position. We must realize that we (students and other flex tenants) do not have conflicting interests. Nobody has an interest in housing cooperatives that are no longer able to implement a social housing policy. No one has an interest in families being evicted. Nobody has an interest in minimizing the amount of social rental housing.”
The Bond Precaire Woonvorm and the Kolenkitgroep call on all tenants and organizations to: to show solidarity with John and the other tenants threatened with eviction in the Kolenkitbuurt.
The requirements of the Coal Kit group are:
1. Stop selling 154 rental homes via Koel Kit. Keep the social rent.
2. Turn temporary contracts into permanent leases.
3. Rehousing in case of eviction.
The following organizations have indicated that they support the actions of the Kolenkitgroep and the Bond Precaire Woonvorm:
Affordable Housing initiative Amsterdam
Tenants Interest South
Amsterdam tenants' association
Follow the residents Facebook or Twitter @kolenkitgroep.
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