The shortage of suitable housing for seniors is a major issue across the Netherlands, and many people are finding it difficult to move to smaller or more age-appropriate accommodation.
According to pensioners association Anbo, the country has a shortage of some 80,000 homes targeting older residents, the Financieele Dagblad reported earlier this month.
Anbo says the housing market is currently too geared towards family homes. ‘Society is getting older, people are living longer and that means their housing needs are changing too,’ says spokeswoman Atie Schipaanboord.
One example of the sort of housing which could be brought back are hofjes – mini developments of small homes around a central courtyard, which were popular in the Netherlands in previous centuries.
Other aspects to consider include ensuring bathrooms are big enough to accommodate both resident and a nurse, and that floors are all the same level, Anbo said.
‘Many older people want to move to an apartment, but there is often very little available in terms of location, affordability and amenities,’ Delft University professor Marja Elsinga told the paper.
This means, for example, that people remain living in family homes, reducing the availability of property for young families. ‘This is slowing down the entire housing market,’ Elsinga says. She wants local authorities to give more priority to developing affordable and suitable housing for older people.
‘And that means [councils] accepting lower land prices and developers making compromises as well,’ she says. ‘If they really want to, they can do it.’
Dutch housing minister Kajsa Ollongren told the Provada real estate fair in November that the Netherlands needs to create 845,000 new homes over the coming 10 years.
‘In 2021 there will be more government money to innovate and invest,’ she said. In particular, the government is working to speed up decision-making about 14 major locations for residential developing, which will involve 60,000 new homes.