It is no secret that finding a suitable place to live in Amsterdam, specifically for students, can be a real challenge. In almost all cases, the house search will be stressful, and many first-years find themselves unable to navigate this famous market.

For us at 020, housing is a fundamental pillar of our programme. We are going to do this in two steps: firstly, we are going to present and explain the problem based on collected data, based on research carried out in the city. This means that the focus will be on the issue itself rather than explaining all the procedures and important information for the housing process. For that, you can give a thorough look at the Housing Booklet already available on the 020 website.

Secondly, we will provide some ideas and specific policies that could be implemented to alleviate the issue. We are aware that it is rather unlikely it will be “fixed” anytime soon. Most importantly, our focus will be on the role the UvA can play in this matter, and whether they could do something more to help new students.

A hands-on approach to improving the UVA

What will 020 change to improve the housing situation for all students?

1

Updated Housing Information

020 advocates for updated housing information and extended timeline to help students in finding a house. Finding a place for a student could be a nightmare, for this reason 020 party wants to help students.

2

Student Housing Platform Initiative

020 believes that creating an online platform is necessary to help students in finding an accommodation. The UvA could sponsor the website for students to access this platform, which will be reliable and safe for all students by avoiding scams.

Updated Housing Information

The Problem

020 first wants to focus on the lack of updated information and data available to students by the university.

In researching the number of available rooms for students, 020 found the latest information is from 2018. As students already struggle with finding housing, we find it important to advocate for updated statistics related to housing. This is to further provide solutions based on updated details regarding the housing situation.

Therefore, updated statistics of the housing crisis would also benefit the current UvA housing offered to many first-year students. There are not enough affordable rooms for all of them, as stated by the university itself. The last available data on this issue date back to 2018: a shortage of 11,000 places in student homes. They provide approximately 2,500 student rooms barely enough for half of all incoming students.

This is why many students will have to try searching in the private market, which is no easy task. The competition to get a room or a flat in Amsterdam is fierce as it is usually on a “first come, first served” basis. It means that if you hesitate or wait too long to agree on something, the next person will take it. Also, this leads to many students taking the first offer they receive in fear of not getting anything at all.

The Solution

020 believes that the UvA could promote reliable organizations, and extend timeline by informing students more than three weeks in advanced.

There are many organisations, such as Woon that provide legal help and advice for students for free. The UvA could advertise them because many first-years were unaware of their existence. Her testimonial showed us how every day these situations are, and the worrying extent to which they affect a student’s mental health, often even the ability to study.

We advocate that the university be more aware of this dynamic, understanding that the University of Amsterdam cannot fully prepare students within such a short amount of time, which leads to inadequate study spaces, and extra stress.

To improve the situation, we believe that the university could implement a more extended timeline. For example, informing students more than three weeks in advance on whether they received a room through UvA housing and sending a confirmation of enrollment with more than a few weeks notice so that students have more time to search on the private market with considerably less stress and pressure.

Interested in the way 020 will implement these sustainability policies and what the costs of that will be? Reach out to our Policy and Research Team!

Student Housing Platform Initiative

The Problem

020 found that many housing challenges stem from the maze of different places to look for it. Students are wholly overwhelmed by the many websites, agencies, and Facebook groups that all offer options of varying trustworthiness.

As it stands, students need to navigate a cornucopia of different options, ranging from housing foundations such as DUWO to private advertisements on Facebook. Furthermore, while organizations such as DUWO have a credible reputation and provide information on who they are and what their contracts entail, those rooms privately advertised often leave a lot to be desired in terms of transparency.

What is lacking is a central platform where landlords can advertise their houses to students and reliability and safety are upheld. While other universities such as Yale provide a platform catering to their students’ housing needs, this is absent at the UvA. There is some support for international students given by the Dutch Student Union (LSVB). However, this is insufficient to structurally change the arduous task of room-searching every student has to go through.

The Solution

We propose to create a central platform in which accommodations can be advertised and swapped or subleased.

This new platform would be explicitly provided for students at the university. It would allow them to share information regarding empty rooms, leasing, subletting, or flats to share with fellow students. This would enable students to an area free from scams. It could offer a better platform to find housing rather than sign up for several.

Besides, after paying registration fees that come with these websites, students may not even receive housing from these platforms. Also, students have to sift through websites that each require specific fees just to write on a waiting list. This can be quite confusing, as well as frustrating and unaffordable. We want to advocate for UvA to sponsor a website in which students can share housing information.

Also, in proposing this policy, we aim to outline detail as much detail as possible. This website would allow students to post listings and respond and personally message each other to exchange more information. The UvA could sponsor the website for students to access this platform. In addition, the website could use login details about student ID numbers and school passwords of UvA’s system. Using this type of system would allow for the assurance that only students would access the portal.

Interested in the way 020 will implement these student housing policies and what the costs of that will be? Reach out to our Policy and Research Team!

Written by: Abigail & Antonio