Freeze the rent! Action report | Tenants in The Hague in action: “Our demand is crystal clear: rent freeze”

About forty people participated this morning in the action “Freeze the rent”, organized by a coalition of SP Den Haag, Bond Precaire Woonvorms Den Haag (BPW), The Hague City Party and Wij refuse the rent increase. The protest took place in front of the entrance to the office of housing association Haag Wonen on Waldorpstraat and was aimed at the highest rent increase in thirty years that housing associations in The Hague want to introduce.

Action report by Harry van Doorbraak – After the mood was set at the start of the action with the energetic sounds of “Fight the power” by Public Enemy, militant denunciations followed against the increasingly heavy housing costs of social housing every year. A number of tenants took the opportunity to vent about the increasing share of fixed costs in their monthly income and about the often poor maintenance of social housing, which makes mold and other nasties in and around the homes more the rule than the exception. be be. The action coalition had called on tenants to share stories of experience and expectations about the rent increase, and these were bundled in a black book.

“In the past thirty years, rents have already risen by more than one hundred and forty percent!”, according to the introduction to that black book. “At the same time, the government has withdrawn billions from the social rental sector through the landlord levy, the Ministry of Housing was abolished and the housing associations allowed thousands of homes to be neglected, resulting in large-scale mold and moisture problems. To now state that tenants themselves must finance the new construction, renovation and sustainability of our public housing through the annual rent increase is a bit of a kick in the wrong direction.”

We have to make cuts, they don't

The action coalition asked tenants these questions: “What does a 5.3 percent rent increase mean for you? Which groceries should you ignore if you have 30 euros less to spend per month? Which costs or other bills can you no longer pay? Which holidays or outings should you save on if you lose 360 euros per year?” The reactions of tenants speak volumes. Someone reports that his family has to stop eating fruit because it is very expensive. Another indicates that he is retired, but that he has to work to be able to live comfortably enough. Yet another notes that saving to pay for unforeseen costs is becoming increasingly difficult. Several tenants have stated that with these types of rent increases they generally have to cut back on groceries. This rent increase is “unaffordable,” several tenants responded. Eat fewer hot meals per week, says another. “We have to make cuts, but they don't,” is how another tenant summarizes the injustice.

The black book was presented to a director of Haag Wonen during the campaign. As usual, the hotemetoot spoke on the left, but he and his fellow directors spoke on the right. The demonstrators called on housing associations to adopt a more activist stance. So don't just say that you want to stand up for the interests of tenants, but actually do so by standing up in the fight against destructive neo-liberal market forces and the tough policy of making the poor poorer and the rich richer.

Below is the speech of Tom, who spoke on behalf of the BPW

My name is Tom and I am active in the Precaire Housing Association. We support tenants who live temporarily and/or too expensively. And it is precisely that last point that we stand here today for Haag Wonen and actually also for the other housing associations in The Hague. The three largest housing associations have announced that they will significantly increase rents as of July 1. For most people that will amount to more than five percent. For people who supposedly earn too much for social housing, the rent can even be increased by a hundred euros in one go. We do not accept that. The housing associations say that this is necessary to become more sustainable. As far as I'm concerned, tenants are getting their money's worth. Only increase rent when they also save on energy bills. Only when sustainability has been achieved can we perhaps discuss a rent increase. Not in advance, and then just hope it comes true.

Of course, it is not just about the corporation having more money. This money comes directly from their tenants' accounts. In recent weeks we have asked tenants what the rent increase means. And the response was overwhelming. We have already heard a number of stories, and we will also hand over the black book, and I would like to ask everyone, certainly also the corporation employees, to share that within your corporation, to indicate what exactly it means for the people who will ultimately pay for it. Our demand is therefore crystal clear: rent freeze. By working together, we as tenants can take a stand against high rents, poorly maintained houses and claim our right to live. Because that is our right to live, our human right. And if we do that together, we can achieve that together. And I hope I'll see you again next time, because I don't think it will be settled until next week. But let us remain combative and thank you very much for your presence.”

This promotion in the news:

The Hague Central | Column: Better maintenance first, corporations. Only then will rents increase

The Hague Central | Protest against rent increase: 'More and more people are falling below the lower limit'

AD | Poor tenants in moldy homes outraged by rent increase: 'It is no longer affordable'

Omroep West | Broadcast West Today March 15, 2024

Omroep West | Poor tenants protest against rent increases: 'I could still throw out the TV'

The Hague FM | Protest against rent increases for social housing: 'We will no longer be able to buy fruit'

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