The Amsterdam housing market and the role of housing associations

“We argue that there is a mutual dependency between local government and housing associations. The latter play an important and innovative role in local housing policy. Firstly we describe the position of the Dutch social housing sector from an international perspective, giving particular attention to the restructuring of the 1990s. Secondly we analyse the position of the social housing sector in Amsterdam and the mismatch on the Amsterdam housing market. This amounts to an overview of the context in which HAs operate. Thirdly we consider the mutual dependency.”

Private providers of not-for-profit social housing in the Netherlands play a role unparalleled in Europe. The Netherlands has the highest percentage of social housing (35%) in the European Union (see Figure 1) – and this has nothing to do with either poverty or socialism – while this share is much higher in the large cities. All this social housing – which is not the same as public housing – is for rent, and there is no Right-to-Buy.

This paper addresses the following question: What is the situation on the Amsterdam housing market and what is the specific role of the housing associations? The 1990s housing reform in the Netherlands did not result in a sharp decline in the share of social housing. But the way this sector is governed and controlled has changed dramatically in the last decade. In the capital city, Amsterdam, the 14 housing associations (HAs) own 55% of the total stock and account for almost 80% of the new housing.

Published in Journal of Housing and the Built Environment | J. V. Veer | 2005,,