Vulnerable neighborhoods in the Netherlands are declining; Utrecht approach example for others

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Things are getting worse in vulnerable Dutch neighborhoods and the problems are also great in Utrecht. However, a step in the right direction has been taken in the municipality of Utrecht. That is stated in the report Resilience in corporation ownership from Aedes, an umbrella of housing associations.

The quality of life in neighborhoods with many social rental properties is declining more rapidly. People feel unsafe, the nuisance increases and that makes the solutions more complex. According to the report, many neighborhoods are about to turn into problem areas if no action is taken.

The number of vulnerable groups, such as residents with a great distance to the labor market, people with a mild intellectual disability and with psychiatric problems, is increasing sharply. More and more people with various social problems live together in the same neighborhood and this would require an integrated approach.

There are also serious problems in Utrecht, but the city is mentioned as an example where changes have already been set in motion. Research was carried out into the neighborhoods at the end of 2018 and continued in the Domstad. The local parties in the city have recognized the situation and provided a package of solutions.

Spearheads

“The various parties have not been idle since then and have developed several building blocks to tackle this problem jointly,” can be read in the report. “The spearheads: more mixed neighborhoods, more affordable social rental housing and more attention for special target groups.”

There are a limited number of neighborhoods in Utrecht with a high concentration of social rental properties where the quality of life is under pressure.

Meetings

There have been a number of well-attended meetings with politicians, corporations, officials and healthcare institutions. The situation in Utrecht was interpreted differently – depending on political color – but according to the report ultimately led to a clear and unambiguous problem analysis. “With an integrated approach as a result: a city agreement, a renewed housing vision and a Plan of Approach housing and support for vulnerable target groups.”

In any case, the intention is clear to work on resilient neighborhoods, but in practice this still requires the necessary elaboration. “It should not stop with an intention, the cooperation requires a certain form of reciprocity and people want to be able to hold each other accountable for not complying with agreements.”

Read more about the cooperation between the municipality, housing associations and investors in the city to balance the housing market in this story: What do the plans mean and how does Utrecht want to box this for each other?

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