A German student finds shelter in a garden shed that has been converted into a tiny house. An Asian student lives with a spry seventy-something. A Dutch student is a guest in the family of a Social Work lecturer until Christmas. Hospi Housing matches (foreign) students with hospitable hosts or host families who have a spare room. The Hague University of Applied Sciences wholeheartedly supports this. Do you have an empty room? Do you know anyone who does? Consider what you can do for a housing market that is completely saturated.
“More and more (international) students see The Hague as a city where they want to do their studies. It makes us proud. At the same time, unfortunately, we had to send a letter to prospective international students, asking them to reconsider coming if they have not yet found a room. As a knowledge institution, we also have a responsibility when it comes to housing. And that is an extremely difficult issue today,” says Hanneke Kadijk. She works at the EK&C Student Services Department and is involved with the platform Student & City, where she is a member of the student housing working group.
In the same boat
The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Leiden University. Delft University of Technology. They are all in the same boat. They advertise their degree programmes. They advertise The Hague, Delft or Leiden as desirable cities to live in. It’s working: more and more students register and look for accommodation. But the supply lags far behind the demand. Hanneke Kadijk: “At the moment there are students who are couchsurfing. They look for a couch or a bed to spend the night. We are trying to do something about this at all levels. At THUAS, we reserve approximately 600 rooms annually with Duwo and a number of smaller student housing providers. This year we were able to increase this number by 50 rooms. But they fill up quickly. The International Office of Student Services receives dozens of e-mails from international students asking for help because they do not yet have a room. The municipality, higher education institutions in The Hague and student housing providers are working on various long-term solutions. Our own hands are tight, especially in the short term. That is why we welcome an initiative like Hospi Housing. A call on the intranet has already helped some students find a room.”
Hospi Housing originated in Utrecht as a relatively small platform for room seekers and hosts. Hanneke Kadijk: “The initiative has caught on. On their website, you can read that more than 200 successful matches have already been made nationwide. But the number of hosts is still much lower than the number of people looking for a room. To make Hospi Housing more widely known, we shared the call for hosts on the intranet.”
I know from up close how frustrating it is when you move somewhere to study, and you don't have a place to stay
Social Work lecturer Janneke Wubs read the appeal and discussed it with her family. “Our daughter has just gone to America to study there for six months. She is in the third year of her studies and would have loved to spend the first two years living in a room in Amsterdam. That was not possible. I know from up close how frustrating it is when you move somewhere to study, and you don't have a place to stay. We had a room available in our house and applied to Hospi Housing. Since a few weeks we have a student in our house. Not from a faraway place, but from Borculo.”
Eating with the family
Janneke: “You draw up a contract with the student. In addition, you make suitable agreements. We share the bathroom. He uses our kitchen. I told him that I would like him to eat with our family too. We have a living room with an open kitchen. I don't want him to start cooking when we have just cleaned up after dinner. Then I want to be able to relax without being disturbed by the sound of pots, pans and the extractor. So we have really made good arrangements. We regularly have people eating with us. We don't have much trouble with an extra housemate. It often means additional fun and socialising.”
Dealing with the locals
Janneke approached Hospi Housing because she likes to give young people the opportunity for development that is so important to them. “The chance to study in a different environment, in a different culture. The chance to get on well with the locals. I wish them that with all my heart, just as I wish it for my daughter who studies in America. I also think that international contacts are good for world peace. Maybe I am a bit naive, but I think that when young people have spent some time in other countries, they understand each other better.”
Every room counts
In order to reduce the shortage of student housing in the Netherlands, the government together with municipalities, educational institutions, housing corporations, private investors and students presented the national action plan student housing 2022-2030 on 8 September. With this action plan, the parties want to achieve an expansion of 60,000 affordable student houses over a period of 8 years.
It’s a great initiative. But it doesn’t solve the housing shortage among (international) students. That is why Hanneke is thankful to people like Janneke. “We know that in The Hague alone we will be some 3,000 rooms short in the coming years. In that situation every room counts.” Janneke: “I have the means to help at least one student. You can call it merely a drop in the ocean, but I don't want to look at it like that.
I hope that it sets a good example, and more colleagues will follow and want to help a student in need
Hanneke Kadijk: "There is now also a lecturer at Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society who has a live-in student. I hope that more people will follow. I’m sure there are more colleagues ready to help a student. Maybe your mother or father lives alone and would like to have someone around the house. Perhaps you know a couple who live in a very large house. Find out if they are willing to house a student and point them towards Hospi Housing. Really, every room counts.”