‘The lack of affordable housing is at the core of the urban problems in many cities across Europe.’

One of the ISHF’s biggest supporters is Amsterdam Alderman, Laurens Ivens. He is participating in the ISHF Opening Event, AFWC’s ‘Social Housing Strategies in major European cites,’ and the ISHF Closing Event. Here is a short interview on why the Alderman is enthusiastic about the festival and what he expects from an exciting week full of housing related events.

What is your background?

I was born in Doetichem and studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2010, I was member of the regional council for the City Region of Amsterdam. After the municipal elections in 2014, I became the Alderman responsible for Housing. My current term ends in 2018.

What is your relation to social housing?

In my function as Alderman, I am responsible for housing in Amsterdam. I strongly believe in the power and the necessity of a well developed social housing program. For now and in the far future.

You told us that you are very much looking forward to the festival. Can you tell us why you are so enthusiastic?

A home, and especially access to a decent, affordable home, is part of the foundation people need in life. Therefore, the lack of affordable housing is at the core of urban problems in many metropolitan centers across Europe.

When living in the city is not accessible for everyone, inequality grows. This generates a number of social challenges. There is no magic switch to solve these problems, and once policymakers begin to dismantle social housing policies, it will be very difficult to recover. It is all the more reason to value and protect what we have right now.

Housing policy in most European countries has recently been increasingly trusted to market forces. There are questions to be answered on how long-sighted this is, given the ongoing challenges like rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles, and climate change. Actors at all scales need to collaborate on proactive and inventive policies to tackle these challenges head-on and provide adequate and affordable housing for all. A city that leans exclusively on a market driven housing policy will not be able to cope with the devastating effects that fluctuations in our current economic system can have on ones without big financial resources.

This is why we need a strong social housing system which secures an undivided city. A city for everyone.

This is why  I am enthusiastic about the International Social Housing Festival. It gives us a place and time to discuss and stand for what we think social housing should be and how it is organized; a moment to share numerous great examples of social housing projects and solutions for future problems; to keep cities accessible to everyone and to secure affordable housing in an ever changing world!


picture by Elodie Burrillon / Hucopix


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